Summer heat can affect meds, experts warn

Updated: Jun. 20, 2018 at 6:19 PM CDT
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With more hot days ahead, pharmacists are reminding you to make sure you store your medication...
With more hot days ahead, pharmacists are reminding you to make sure you store your medication properly. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - No secret - it's hot outside. Although it's important to get some Vitamin D, you want to be smart about heat and outdoor activities when it comes to your medication and your body.

With more hot days ahead, pharmacists are reminding you to make sure you store your medication properly.

"A lot of people will say, 'Can I keep a bottle of medicine in my car.' I'd say I really don't recommend it because of how hot it gets in the car and because of how how hot it gets during the summer," said Allen Strickland, Pharmacist at Eastside Pharmacy.

The heat from the sun can break down the components of the medication and change how it's absorbed - or make it not effective at all. With medication, it's important to pay close attention to the warning stickers on the side of the bottle because some medications can impact the body if you're out in the sun.

Some drugs may cause a patient to become photosensitive and lower your body's natural resistance to the sun - which means you can get more intense sunburns in less time. For example, Sulfonamides, drugs that contain sulfur, are prescriptions that could put you at risk.

"If you're diabetic, you may want to refer to your pharmacist and see if you're on any medications of those," said Jessica Smith, Pharmacist at Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

Some medicines for UTIs, anti-depressants and acne medicines can also make you photosensitive.

"Teenagers that take Accutane - their skin is more prone to it and if you're on antibiotics like doxycycline for acne - which is used to treat a lot of infections," Smith said.

But it's not just prescription drugs you should be aware of; it's also some over-the-counter medication.

"Anti-histamines have a drying effect - and drying keeps you from sweating," said Strickland.

If you're body isn't able to sweat and regulate itself it could put you at risk of heat exhaustion or a heat stroke. Strickland says examples of drugs would be Claritin and Benadryl.

You'll also want to be aware of patches that administer drugs through the skin. If you're in the heat for an extended period of time - your body temperature will increase and could cause you to absorb more medicine than needed and it could lead to an overdose.

"The most dangerous would be patch for pain, because they're programmed to release medication - so many milligrams per hour, " said Smith, "But if your body temp goes up and you're sweating more and you're in the heat - you could have more released."

Understanding how the medications can impact your body means you can prepare by doing simple things like staying hydrated, wearing proper skin protection when you go outside - like hats or shirts with sleeves - and sunscreen.

If you have questions, you're urged to contact your pharmacists or physician.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.