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Your Healthy Family: Some medications make people more vulnerable to heat

Posted at 10:05 AM, Jul 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-11 10:05:35-04

There’s a heat advisory in Southwest Florida until at least Wednesday night. And doctors say people need to be aware that some medications can make them more vulnerable to the impacts of heat, which can lead to some serious complications.

"If someone's not careful and they're on some of these higher risk medications and happen to be in a heatwave with prolonged exposure to higher temperatures, they can end up getting sicker." Emergency Medicine Dr. Mark Conroy, with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said.

He said people on certain medications are more likely to end up in the Emergency Room for heat-related illnesses compared to others.

Drugs that may put you at higher risk in the heat include:

  • Medications for blood pressure
  • Medications for mental health
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants

"If there's reports of a heatwave coming up, I'd reach out to your local pharmacist or your primary care doctor and just talk to them about the medications you're on," Dr. Conroy said.
He said not everyone who takes higher risk medications will have a reaction, but there are red flags to look out for:

  • Signs of dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Not urinating as frequently, despite drinking water
  • Light-headedness

"You have to be prepared. Having an emergency plan. Keeping an extra bottle of water nearby, reevaluating the activities you have planned," Dr. Conroy said.
He said it's also important to pay attention to how medications are stored. Some medicines can degrade in the heat, and not be as effective. Most medicines are best kept in cool, dry places.