High heat can impact the effectiveness of prescription medications and cause side effects | Local News

The heat wave continues across the country, in the United States and locally. And with temperatures in the region consistently staying in the 80s to 90s, experts warn of more than just heatstroke and sunburn.

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Scott Hall, senior director of clinical practice for pharmacy in the Southwest Region of the Mayo Clinic Health System, says heat can impact medication effectiveness. The chemicals they contain can be degraded when stored at very high or even very cold temperatures.

“We really need to make sure that these drugs retain their strength, potency, and effectiveness regardless of the condition they’re trying to treat,” Hall says. “The temperature can really impact all the medications people take.”

Insulin is a drug that can be particularly heat-sensitive, Hall says, as can nitroglycerin tablets and epinephrine injectors.

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To maintain medication effectiveness, medications should not be stored in a vehicle, bathroom, or near stoves and ovens, where moisture, steam, and heat from cooking and baking can have a negative effect on the pills. Especially for those who do not have air conditioning in their homes, medicines should be kept in a cool, dry place. Medicines should also be kept in their original packaging.

“Whether it’s the bottle the medicine originally came in or the bottle the pharmacist put it in at the pharmacy, keeping it in those bottles where they can stay sealed will really help prevent any side effects. heat negative,” Hall said. said.

Medications should not, Hall says, be stored in the refrigerator unless directed by a pharmacist or doctor.

In addition to affecting medications, heat can also impact the patient’s tolerance to medications and have adverse effects. Certain medications, especially those classified as diuretics, such as blood pressure medications, can make patients more susceptible to dehydration.

“Their intended effect is to increase urination and, through this, help lower blood pressure,” says Hall. “But this increased urination can lead to dehydration.”

Beta-blockers and antihistamines, Hall adds, “can inhibit the body’s ability to sweat and therefore make patients more susceptible to the effects of heat.” And some psychiatric drugs can interfere with body temperature regulation.

“I would say the basic common practice is that if you’re on these types of medications, limit the amount of time you’re outside,” advises Hall. Those who have to stay outdoors for a long time should stay in the shade as much as possible and drink enough water.

Says Hall, “Make sure you’re proactively taking care of yourself so you don’t end up in a tough spot.”

Those who have questions about storing their medications, or if they have been affected by any heat-related side effects, should talk to their pharmacist.

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