Does Global Warming Have an Effect in Neurological Conditions?

Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. In the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700  years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. 

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities. Most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years, with the seven most recent years being the warmest. The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record. 

Climate change and global warming will likely worsen illnesses worldwide and may become the major drivers of human migration. 

Neurological disorders are the foremost cause of disability adjusted life years, representing 16.8% of global deaths. The effects of environmental factors on neurological practice are multifaceted and complex, involving climate, temperature, biodiversity, toxins, food availability, quality and nutritional status and differences in human habitation and many others.

New Study Findings 

A study published in the journal PeerJ by a group of researchers in Denmark analyzed the impact of increasing ambient temperatures on individuals with neurological disorders. The researchers found that elevated ambient temperatures were associated with exacerbated symptoms and increased hospitalization and mortality rates in these individuals. 

They did so by reviewing previous research examining the impact of ambient temperature increases on the manifestation of symptoms of major neurological conditions and analyzed the studies to see the association between ambient temperature and hospitalization and mortality rates due to these neurological conditions. 

The researchers saw that multiple of these studies found that elevated temperatures were associated with more adverse symptoms like irritability, agitation, anxiety and depression in patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Also, an increase in ambient temperatures was associated with a decline in cognitive performance and motor function in patients with Multiple sclerosis. 


Amiri M, Peinkhofer C, Othman MH, De Vecchi T, Nersesjan V, Kondziella D. 2021. Global warming and neurological practice: systematic review. PeerJ 9:e11941

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