Extreme heat leads to more hospitalizations

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:58 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The earth’s surface is getting warmer and it will only continue to get hotter, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The psychiatric and health care community are now voicing concerns about the impact the heat could have on vulnerable patients.

According to NASA, while earth’s climate has changed throughout its history, the warming we are experiencing now is happening at a rate we have not seen in the past 10,000 years.

Researchers at Boston University found that on extremely hot summer days, adults had a higher risk of visiting emergency rooms for mental health crises related to substance use, anxiety, stress and more.

“So, with heat comes higher levels of anxiety, higher levels of aggression,” said Christina Casci, a licensed clinical therapist. “People struggle to tolerate their body temperature; therefore they struggle to tolerate their emotional state as well.”

According to the research, pre-existing mental illness doubles the risk of death during extreme heat events.

Also, psychiatrists say some medications used to treat mental illness may impair the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. During hot and humid days, those on antipsychotic medications are at higher risk of overheating.

To stay cool, mental health experts recommend staying in air conditioning as much as possible, wearing loose-fitting clothing and making sure to stay hydrated.

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