Medications and heat don’t mix

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Those taking medication need to be cautious about the greater effect heat will have on them. (Stock Photo)

Those taking medication need to be cautious about the greater effect heat will have on them. (Stock Photo)

It’s been a hot one, and the heat doesn’t seem to be cooling down anytime soon in Utah Valley. Most people can get by with drinking a little extra water, but those who take certain medications are at a greater health risk because of their medications’ side effects.

Many medications affect the body’s ability to keep itself cool, especially in the summer months. The Consumer Health Information Corporation notes that people with high blood pressure, muscle spasms and even allergies are at-risk because many of the medications (like mecamylamine, atropine and promethazine) taken to combat these issues reduce the body’s ability to sweat and restricts blood flow to the skin, thus inhibiting our bodies’ normal ways to keep cool.

The heat also affects the medication itself. Pharmacist David James said medications should be stored between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat can affect the ingredients.

“If you leave it in your car, I can’t say the medication will be good anymore,” James said. “The ingredients leech. If the inactive ingredients leech off, the medication will be stronger. And if the active ingredient leeches off, it’s less effective. Usually the latter happens.”

Those who suffer from kidney problems or diabetes also need to take extra caution caring for their medications and themselves in the heat. Many of the medications taken to help those with these chronic conditions are diuretics. They help the body rid itself of water and salt.

“If a person has diabetes or high blood pressure, the heat will affect them a lot more. It will cause excess water loss,” James said.

While the meds help their kidneys filter waste and work properly, they also cause more water loss than normal. In the summer months, people taking these types of medications need to drink even more water to compensate.

Drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily, wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. are precautions everyone should take, but for those taking these types of medications, it’s imperative. Since it’s ill-advised to stop taking your long-term medication, doctors and pharmacists recommend being overly cautious in the summer.

Drinking water continually throughout the day is recommend. Also, they are advised not to work out in the hottest parts of the days, or on muggy days, as the extra heat and humidity, coupled with strenuous activity will dehydrate them too quickly.

Failing to stay hydrated and cool can lead to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, vomiting, heart arrhythmia, headaches and passing out.

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Kelly Haight is a BYU graduate with a degree in communications and an editing minor. Her emphasis was in journalism, and she enjoys covering sports, the arts and writing opinion-editorials. She also works full-time as a content editor for an SEO company.

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