With the heat breaking records this year, it is important to know that the risk of heat-related illness and death can be higher for people who use certain medications.
Some medications can interfere with the body’s natural defenses against heat, such as sweating or other temperature regulation functions. Others can reduce the body’s fluid level or increase the risk of falling or fainting in the heat. These medications include:
- Tranquilizers such as thioxanthenes, phenothiazines, and butyrophenones, which can reduce sweating.
- Psychotropic drugs such as haloperidol or chlorpromazine, which can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, which can increase sweating, leading to dehydration.
- Diuretic medications, which cause your body to lose more water, leading to dehydration.
- Medications for Parkinson’s disease, some of which can reduce sweating.
- Blood pressure medications, which may increase the risk of dizziness, falls, and fainting in the heat.
If you are on any of these types of medications, it is especially important to take precautions against heat-related illnesses when temperatures are high.
Additionally, medications themselves can be affected by extreme temperatures and moisture, which may make them less potent. This is particularly true for insulin and medications for hypothyroidism. Prevent medication degradation by storing medications according to the label instructions, keeping medications away from heat-generating appliances, not leaving medications in the car, picking up any mail-order prescriptions immediately, and avoiding storing medications in rooms with high humidity and frequent temperature changes.
Although the bathroom is the most common place to store medications, some experts advise against it because bathrooms are prone to high temperatures and humidity. If you do store medications in your bathroom, be sure to keep them in their original containers.
Consult with your doctor before altering your medications or if you have any questions or concerns about how your medications are affected by high temperatures.
See also our blog post on avoiding hot car fatalities.