Yesterday marked the beginning of Climate Week 2020 (14 – 20 September). This is a great opportunity for organisations to get involved in promoting action against climate change.

Many have already jumped on board to raise awareness about the consequences climate change holds in store and about the actions they have taken to tackle climate change. While this is a topic that concerns all of us, we’d like to take this chance to highlight how climate change can affect those living with epilepsy.

To better understand links between climate change and epilepsy and compile compelling research evidencing this, the Epilepsy Climate Change (EpiCC), a group of epilepsy clinicians and scientists with an interest in the relationship between climate change and epilepsy, was formed.

EpiCC began a review of scientific reports and studies on topics that cross these two areas. As more data and research become available, the EpiCC will explore the possible impact climate change has on the health and lives of people with epilepsy.

Some of the areas of interest identified by the EpiCC focus on the following factors linked to changing climate:

  • The role of heat, humidity, increased body temperature and sleep deprivation in triggering seizures (and cerebrovascular disorders such as stroke). These factors result from more frequent extreme weather.
  • Territorial expansion of vector-borne infections (e.g. cerebral malaria), arboviruses (e.g. dengue fever) and tick-borne encephalitis.
  • Impact on health arising from conflict and displacement of people (from floods, droughts, wildfires) affecting food and water security.
  • Temperature sensitivity and genetic variations – are certain epilepsies and epilepsy syndromes more fever-sensitive.
  • Anti-seizure medicines: Interested in the question whether changes in climatic conditions and environmental temperature influence the effectiveness of AEDs/whether seasonal and sunlight exposure variations affect circadian rhythms and impact on sleep-related seizures.

The Epilepsy Society carried out a survey following the week of 21-27 June 2020, when temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius in the UK. The feedback from this investigation has shown a direct link between excessively hot weather and seizures in a large group of people with epilepsy in the UK. Read more here.

Research like this is needed to gather evidence that can be used in a call for action to ensure that climate change is addressed to prevent its negative effect on people living with epilepsy all over the world. Naturally, climate change affects a multitude of layers of environmental and societal factors. However, showing how it is linked to epilepsy gives us another reason to act now and do what we can to tackle climate change.

What is Epilepsy Connections doing?

We’ve joined the EpiCC early in 2020 and our staff team is committed to addressing climate change through changes in their homes and workplace.

  • We recycle!
  • We are encouraging subscribers to our newsletter to switch to an e-newsletter to save paper.
  • Before lockdown, most members of our team would take public transport to work, some would walk in. Working from home has reduced our emissions through not travelling by car or public transport and some in the team are keen to cycle to work in the future.
  • Making sure to be COVID safe and using PPE where necessary has put a dent in our commitment to reduce our use of single-use plastic. However, our main priority must be to keep service users safe and we will strive to reduce our carbon footprint where possible.
  • All staff members checked their own carbon footprint and were asked to consider the impact of the projects they lead on the environment. Have a go an calculate your own carbon footprint here.

Stay tuned on our Social Media for more updates during Climate Week 2020 and use or follow #ScotClimateWeek to be part of the conversation on social media and see what other organisations are doing.