Close this search box.

Getting healthier, getting sicker. The diseases of climate change

Climate change

Climate change has a major impact on health; higher temperatures or extreme weather events are already directly related to illness and even death. Spain is a vulnerable country that requires adaptation strategies to protect our health.

The impact that climate change has on the planet also has an impact on our health; people are vulnerable to changes in the environment and have to adapt, which is not easy when the balance is disrupted as quickly as it has been in recent years. Every decade the global temperature rises 0.2 degrees Celsius and By 2014, human-induced warming is projected to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. These are small numbers that mean a lot.

For example, as the World Health Organisation points out, more than 10 million people are exposed to flooding in coastal areas; around 600,000 people have died in the last decade of the 20th century as a result of natural disasters directly related to weather conditions and the number of people affected by disease is increasing. Asthma alone affects 300 million people and rising.

Although climate change is a phenomenon that must be addressed globally, the fact is that there are areas and population groups that are more vulnerable and there are very definite local consequences. Spain is particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change for two reasons:

  • the geographical situation
  • The vulnerability of its increasingly ageing population is not compensated for by improved infrastructure, for example.

While it is true that, unlike in developing countries, we have a great capacity to implement adaptive strategies, as was done after the heat wave we suffered in 2003, there is already scientific evidence in our country on:

  • the change in the distribution of some infectious disease vectors
  • the changing seasonality of some allergenic pollens
  • increase in the number of deaths related to heatwaves


Heat waves, which are becoming more frequent and longer lasting, are causing direct cause of the increase in mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, especially among the elderly and older people. But there are other population groups vulnerable to these extreme temperatures such as the chronically ill, people with obesity, people with drug or alcohol addictions or undergoing treatment with certain medications, and those working under extreme thermal conditions.

With rising temperatures, levels of ozone and other air pollutants are on the riseas well as certain allergens.

The most direct consequence of a precipitous rise in temperature would be the lack of response of the human thermoregulatory systemwhich can affect vital functions as the body loses water and electrolytes.

What we can do: Prevention through public health measures is essential, but what we can all do at home is, above all, to sufficiently hydrate ourselves when temperatures rise above 37 degrees Celsius.


The relationship between cold and disease or mortality is not as direct as in heat waves. However, the following should be kept in mind caution in areas with mild wintersThe body's own adaptation mechanism, which is not accustomed to low temperatures, is the reason for this.

In Spain, extreme cold is not considered to be a health problem, although some people are more vulnerable, such as those who sleep on the streets or those who work in extreme conditions. In addition, they should have special care should be taken by those suffering from respiratory and circulatory diseases.


In the last ten years the number of allergic patients has increased in Spain. At Biosalud Day Hospital we see how the environmental factor is a determining factor in allergies or autoimmune diseases, both of which are on the rise.. One explanation is that pollens are more aggressive in cities and in industrialised areas or areas near motorways, as plants defend themselves against pollution by modifying their metabolism and producing new proteins. On the other hand, the increase in greenhouse gases and higher temperatures stimulate photosynthesis over longer periods than a few years ago, which increases the production of pollens and their presence in the environment. In short, pollination cycles are changing.

What we can do: While symptoms should be treated at specific times, it is most effective to treating allergy holistically. The first step is to stay away - if possible - from allergens. In addition, regulation of the immune system and intestinal cleansing can help to balance the body and "deactivate" the immune system's overreaction to allergens.



It can be said that mosquitoes have killed almost half of humanity. This is revealed in Timothy C. Winegard's latest work "The Mosquito: The Story of the Deadliest Predator", which reminds us that Malaria has killed 52 billion people.of the 108 billion of us who have lived on earth throughout history.

This figure gives us the importance of taking action on the diseases vector-borne mosquitoes (malaria, leishmaniasis, dengue fever virus, chikungunya or yellow fever virus), the tick-borne (Lyme borreliosis, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever or Mediterranean button fever), in addition to those transmitted by rodentsless frequent.

It is the behaviour, seasonality and population increase of the vectors, their intermediate hosts or natural reservoirs that can lead to the behaviour, seasonality and population increase of the vectors, their intermediate hosts or natural reservoirs. changes in temperature, precipitation or humidity.

Spain has favourable conditions for the importation and establishment of tropical and subtropical vectors adapted to survive in these types of climate. However, there are many other factors that can contribute to contracting these diseases and it is therefore important to establish risk factors and models that explain transmission.

What we can doAt Biosalud Day Hospital we specialise in the treatment of the following diseases Lyme disease. While we see patients from all over the world and we do not have studies that can define the pattern, we understand that we can act on the risk factors in terms of avoiding or monitoring tick bites.

We are convinced that it is necessary to training of specialists for the detection of these diseases, which are no less aggressive because they are less frequent.

We are aware of the difficulties in curbing the effects of climate change, but at the same time we know that on a day to day basis we can act to keep our bodies strong:

  • balanced diet and, as far as possible, avoiding processed foods and increasing the intake of organic products.
  • Address public health recommendations, especially among the most vulnerable people and in the face of extreme events.
Mariano Bueno

Dr. Mariano Bueno and his team

Suscríbete a nuestra newsletter

Abrir chat
¿En qué podemos ayudarte?