Heat and Medicine
St. Louis College of Pharmacy
4588 Parkview Place * St. Louis, MO 63110 * www.stlcop.edu
July 12, 2012
Heat and Medicine: Potentially Dangerous Combination
(St. Louis)- Over the past two weeks, you’ve probably taken precautions for yourself, children, pets and elderly parents dealing with the heat. Have you thought about your medicine? Recent record breaking temperatures can change its effectiveness.
“Medication may be affected if the temperature in your home exceeds the storage requirements. This in turn may affect the ability of the medication to work properly,” says Jill Sailors, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. “Make sure that medications are kept away from direct sunlight at home and do not store medication in the bathroom where the temperature varies with bathing and showering. Also, make sure not to leave medications in your car.”
Typically medicine should be stored between 68 and 77 Fahrenheit, unless it needs refrigeration.
Diabetes patients need to be on alert. High temperatures put extra stress on the body that could raise blood sugar. “If you are not feeling well, you need to be evaluated by a medical professional,” adds Dr. Sailors. “Even with a working refrigerator, insulin injections could have been affected by the heat, or they may not work as well because the body is under stress. Patients should not take extra shots without seeking medical advice.”
Other medications, even if stored correctly, can increase dehydration or interfere with the body’s natural ability to cool itself. That means patients taking seizure medication, antihistamines, blood pressure medication, neurologic or psychiatric medication or even those with Parkinson’s disease need to stay hydrated when exposed to extreme heat.
Dr. Sailors gives this advice for all patients who do not have air conditioning or are concerned about effectiveness of both prescription and over the counter medicine:
• If your home is not air conditioned, put medicine next to a fan.
• If you notice an increase in side effects while on a medication, contact your pharmacist or doctor.
• If you are not sure about whether your medicine is still effective, contact your pharmacist or the manufacturer of the medication.
• Never store medicine in the trunk of a car, even for the short trip home from the pharmacy.
About St. Louis College of Pharmacy: Founded in 1864, St. Louis College of Pharmacy is the fourth oldest and 10th largest college of pharmacy in America. The College integrates the liberal arts and sciences with a professional curriculum and introductory and advance practice experiences where students can develop expertise and become leaders in the field and their communities. Beginning in 2014, the seven-year curriculum leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree will also include a Bachelor of Science. The college admits students directly from high school and accepts transfer students and graduates from other colleges and universities. More than 1,250 students are currently enrolled from 25 states and several countries. Additional information is available at www.stlcop.edu.