The hot, humid days of summer are here! Did you know that some medications, when combined with increased heat exposure, can lead to unwanted health effects such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Here are some tips for protecting yourself during the summer months.
Risk factors for heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke include age (very young or elderly), dehydration, and chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, obesity, diabetes, alcoholism).
Certain medications – like drugs for overactive bladder, drugs for Parkinson’s disease, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihistamines, diuretics, blood pressure medications, laxatives, lithium, and epilepsy drugs – may increase your risk of heat-related problems by preventing sweating, interfering with body temperature regulation, increasing heat production, or increasing fluid loss.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
- feeling weak,
- heavy sweating,
- pale skin,
- muscle cramps.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency, and signs include:
- extremely high temperature,
- red, hot, dry skin (no sweating),
- rapid pulse,
- throbbing headache,
Talk to your pharmacist about your medications to find out whether they may affect your ability to deal with heat.
In periods of hot weather, remain in air conditioned areas, increase fluid intake (limit coffee, tea, cola and alcohol), stay out of the sun, avoid vigorous activity during peak sun hours (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.), and wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and a wide brimmed hat.
Be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illnesses, and help monitor family, friends, and individuals at risk.