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Disability, Chronic Illness, Mental Illness, Ageing, and Children

ID: an illustration of people with varying disabilities and 1 service dog gathering together.

Heat is hard on the human body.


Morbidity not just mortality

Most research and information focuses on acute care for heat-illness and the cause of heat-related death. But what about those who suffer through the heat and may even become quite ill but manage to survive? This is a topic that has not been researched nearly enough but there is agreement that there can be long term effects on people’s bodies after experiencing heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses or possibly just as a result of exposure, particularly prolonged or repeated exposure to hot environments. It is also the case that some health conditions flare or worsen during heat waves but less clear is what the long-term implications of those may be. 


We, as a society, need to aim higher than making sure everyone survives - barely and with considerable suffering - and yet we are currently failing even at that.

What parts of our body are involved/affected?

The short answer to what parts of our body are affected by heat is 'everything'. The hypothalamus, which is the manager in charge of body temperature, works to protect the core temperature because there is a very narrow variation in temperature tolerated before serious and even fatal harm occurs. 


Understanding how our bodies try to prevent overheating and the stress it puts on our bodies is helpful for identifying what may work differently in your own. 


Too often discussions around heat seem to suggest the body is either fine or in crisis. Much like the binary of “well” or “sick” it doesn’t reflect the experience of heat, particularly for disabled people. 


We want something that recognizes the existence of zebras, not just horses. Rare disease and rare combinations of conditions exist. Actually being rare is not rare.


This site is written with the understanding of something Gabrielle Peters has named the “Crip Cascade Effect.” The crip cascade effect understands that something that impacts a disabled person can result in setting off a chain of events that would not occur and isn’t planned for or expected by non-disabled people, including those in health care.  


Disabled people especially know our bodies and what functions differently for us than a non-disabled person. The hope is you will be able to personalize and adjust the information about how a typical non-disabled adult body responds to heat and the processes involved and how those are affected by doing that work and what happens if they fail to succeed.





















Crip Links

Below is a small list of how heat impacts some people with different disabilities or at different points in their lives than the non-disabled non-senior non-pregnant adult most information is geared towards.


This is just a starter list and if you have a blog post, research paper or just a link you have found helpful, please email it to us so we can add it to this list. 


Content note: Some links include mentions of self-harm.


  1. Keep Children Cool! Protect Your Child From Extreme Heat 

  2. Babies in Hot Weather 

  3. Keeping Children Safe During Hot Weather 

  4. Extreme Heat. Staying Safe if You Have Health Issues

  5. Some Chronic Conditions That Can’t Take The Heat  

  6. 10 Ways Wheelchair Users Can Beat The Heat 

  7. Heat Stress and Older People 

  8. Heat exposure and cardiovascular health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  9. Heat stroke is a danger, but cardiovascular stress causes more heat wave deaths. 

  10. Keeping Your Lungs Healthy In the Heat 

  11. The Effects of Climate Change on Patients with Chronic Lung Disease 

  12. Air Pollution and Chronic Airway Diseases: What People Should Know 

  13. Managing Diabetes in the heat 

  14. Climate change and the kidney 

  15. The Impacts of Extreme Heat on Mental Health 

  16. What Happens to the Brain During Heat Stroke 

  17. How High Heat Can Impact Mental Health

  18. Higher Temperatures Increase Suicides in US and Mexico 

  19. How New York’s heat waves have worsened dementia and mental health

  20. Alzheimer’s Foundation warns heat can be deadly for dementia patients

  21. Is Cognitive function Affected by Hot Weather

  22. Heat stress, plasma concentrations of adrenaline, noradrenaline, 5-hydroxytryptamine and cortisol, mood state and cognitive performance

  23. Heat Waves Don’t Just Give You Sunburn, They Can Harm Your Mental Health Too

  24. Researchers say extreme heat is making mental health crises more common

  25. It’s not just heat stroke. Extreme temperatures pose special risk to people with chronic illness (and that’s a lot of us)

  26. Potential adverse health consequences of climate change related to rheumatic diseases 

  27. Overheating, Thyroid Disease and Lupus 

  28. How Weather Exacerbates Autoimmune Disease 

  29. Managing Your Autoimmune Disease During Summer’s Hottest Days

  30. Dealing with Heat and Hot Weather - Myasthenia Gravis 

  31. How the Heat Affects Me as Someone with LEMS 

  32. Temperature Sensitivity in MS

  33. Does Humidity Make Your Joints Hurt? Here’s Why, and What to Do About It

  34. Is the Summer Heat Affecting Your Joints?

  35. How to survive the summer heat with POTS  

  36. 6 Unexpected Symptoms of Summer With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and POTS

  37. Heat Waves Tied to Flare-Ups of Digestive Illnesses

  38. How Summer and Heat Impact My IBD and Ostomy 

  39. Dear Sunshine, Please Go Away. My Crohn’s Hates You

  40. Spinal Cord Injury and body temperature 

  41. Weather and air pollution as triggers of severe headaches 

  42. Climate Change Impact on Seasonal Allergies 

  43. To My Fellow Fibro Warriors Struggling with the Heat 

  44. How to cope with a heatwave if you have ME/CFS

  45.  Twenty-Seven Ways a Heat Wave Can Kill You: Deadly Heat in the Era of Climate Change

a two column info chart. on the left are 3 sections, each with an arrow pointing towards the section on the right. the 3 sections on the left are: a thermometer showing that it’s very hot next to “thermoregulation:reduced skin bloodflow,reduced sweat rate,increased body heat storage,increased body temperature”/a heart with an exclamation mark in the middle next to “cardiovascular:reduced cardiac output, increased chronotropic dependence, increased myocardial strain,blunted peripheral vascular responses,reduced central vascular responses,reduced cerebrovascular regulation,increased coagulation”/a drop of water with a gradient going black to red next to “fluid regulation:reduced renal function,reduced blood volume,reduced sensitivity to fluid regulatory hormones,reduced thirst sensation,reduced fluid conservation during dehydration”.On the right reads “increased risk of: heat stroke,acute myocardial infarction,thrombosis/embolism,ischemic stroke,electrolyte imbalances,acute kidney injury
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