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Posts Tagged ‘Medication Safety’

Tips to Keep You and Your Medications Safe as Temperatures Rise. By Our Student Pharmacist, Cambree Fillis.

With temperatures outside rising, it is important to keep yourself and your medications safe!

Certain medications can increase the sensitivity of our skin to the sun, cause heat intolerance, and promote dehydration. Medications themselves can also be damaged by the sun, heat, and humidity.

Hydration Image

Keep yourself safe:

Due to varying mechanisms of action and side effects of certain medications, you may be at an increased risk of sunburn, heat intolerance, and/or dehydration. Medications that make the skin more prone to sunburn include, but are not limited to, antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, and NSAIDs. For a more comprehensive list, please refer to the end of this article.*

These medications may cause a severe burn, hives, rash, and an increased risk of skin cancer if you spend any amount of time in the sun without protection. To reduce the risk of this adverse event, take protective measures against the sun. Find shade, stay covered, and apply the appropriate sunscreen. Check back later this month for an article on how to stay safe in the sun!

Some medications can also cause heat intolerance. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, and antihistamines, including Benadryl, cause individuals to sweat less. This increases internal body temperatures and results in an increased risk of heat intolerance. Beta blockers, typically used for blood pressure or heart rate control, reduce blood flow to the skin. This also increases the risk of heat intolerance. Overheating due to heat intolerance can lead to heat stroke, characterized by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, changes in heart rate, confusion, and fainting. To reduce the risk of heat intolerance, stay hydrated, seek shade or air conditioning, and avoid strenuous physical activities outside.

Medications, including water pills, such as furosemide and other diuretics, work by eliminating fluid from the body and increasing the risk of dehydration. Laxatives also increase the risk of dehydration due to fluid loss. These medications, in addition to too much fun in the sun without the proper hydration, can be a dangerous combination. A good way to reduce the risk of dehydration is by maintaining an adequate fluid intake and avoiding alcoholic beverages.

Reach out to your pharmacist if you have questions regarding if these side effects are common for any of your current medications.

Medication Image

Keeping your medications safe:

It is also important to consider any and all products that are temperature sensitive themselves, to ensure safety and effectiveness. Medications that are required to be stored under refrigeration should be kept around 35-40°F. Those that are to be stored at room temperature should be kept around 75-77°F, away from humidity and light. If a medication should be kept at room temperature it is best to store it in a cabinet or a drawer outside of the bathroom and out of the reach of children and pets. This storage prevents exposure to fluctuating temperatures and humidity. Otherwise, these medications can lose their potency and effectiveness, meaning you are not receiving the appropriate therapeutic amount of medications. If you do not receive therapeutic doses of insulin, blood sugar may drastically increase; if you do not receive therapeutic doses of antibiotics, infections may worsen or become resistant.

Although there may not always be a physical sign, some medications may have noticeable changes if they are damaged by the heat. Changes in smell, taste, color, and form may be observed. If you notice any of these changes, call your local pharmacy to ask questions and request refills.

0Medications that have not been stored correctly should be disposed of properly. Various police stations and fire departments have drop off boxes to dispose of damaged and/or expired medications. Additional locations will take back medications on national prescription drug take-back day, which will take place this year on Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 10:00am. to 2:00pm. Otherwise medications may be disposed of by mixing them with cat litter or coffee grounds and throwing the mixture into the garbage.

Additional tips to keep your medication safe:

  • Do not leave medications in the car.
  • If you are traveling, keep your medications in a cooler or insulated bag.
  • If you are traveling by plane, keep your medications in your carry-on; use a cool pack if needed.
  • Travel with only as much medication as you need for the trip.
  • If you wear an insulin pump, consider changing the insulin more frequently in the summer.

Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions regarding a medication that may have been stored incorrectly.

* Antibiotics: ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, ofloxacin, doxycycline, tetracycline, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim)

Antifungals: voriconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, griseofulvin

Antihistamines: cetirizine, diphenhydramine, loratadine, cyproheptadine

Cholesterol lowering agents: simvastatin, atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin

Diuretics: hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, chlorothiazide, furosemide, triamterene

NSAIDs: ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, ketoprofen

Oral contraceptives and estrogens

Antiemetics: chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, promethazine, prochlorperazine

Psoralens: methoxsalen, trioxsalen

Retinoids: acitretin, isotretinoin, tretinoin

Sulfonamides: acetazolamide, sulfadiazine, sulfasalazine, sulfisoxazole

Sulfonylureas: glipizide, glyburide

Miscellaneous medications: amiodarone, lamotrigine, quinidine.


  1. Harrelson L. Summer Weather Doesn’t Mix With Some Medications. Accessed April 2019. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/medication-affected-by-summer-heat-151887.htm.
  2. Polk County Health Department. Keep Your Medications Away From Summer Heat! Accessed April 2019. https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/media/189984/medication-handout.pdf.
  3. Rathner JL. Medications Can Make You More Sun and Heat Sensitive. Accessed April 2019. Published August 2012. https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/august-2012/medications-can-make-you-more-sun-and-heat -sensitive/.
  4. Stoller-Conrad J. Why you should keep medicines out of the summer heat. Accessed April 2019. Published July 2012. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/07/10/156575072/why-you-should-keep-medicines-out-of- summer-heat.
  5. Tunno BB. Heat and medication: pharmacists share tips to keep your prescriptions safe. By Bianca Barr Tunno, AccuWeather staff writer. Accessed April 2019. https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/how-does-heat-affect-medications/70001730.
  6. US Food and Drug Administration. The Sun and Your Medicine. Accessed April 2019. Updated September 2015. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/SpecialFeatures/ucm464195.htm