Tips for Medication Storage During Hot Summers
The summer sun can drastically reduce a medication’s effectiveness. Learning to properly store your medications is necessary in order to preserve your medications. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can have a profound impact on the effectiveness of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Pharmaceutical manufacturers suggest that almost any form of medication should be stored in a temperature-controlled room between 58 and 86 degrees. Take special precautions when transporting and storing medicines and always follow the additional instructions of your pharmacist or doctor.
Summer Tips for Storing Medications
During summer heat waves, the sudden temperature change can cause your medication to change physically, lose potency, or change its chemical composition in a way that could damage your health. Take a few simple precautions to protect the integrity of your medication:
Know Which Medications can Cause Dehyrdation
Certain classes of medications can cause dehydration, which can be particularly dangerous in the summer when patients tend to lose more sweat. Some of the classes of medications that can cause dehydration include the following:
- Medicines for blood pressure
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Any medication that indicates diarrhea or vomiting as a possible side effect
According to the CDC, effective methods to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration include drinking abundant water, replacing minerals in your body that you lose in sweat, wear light clothing, use sunscreen, and stay indoors with air conditioning.
Don’t Leave Medications in the Car
When patients leave their cars on a 90 degree day for 30 minutes, they usually come back to a car that is over 120 degrees inside, which is well above the recommended storage temperature for medications. Certain medications increase or decrease their effectiveness if exposed to extreme temperatures, including insulin, thyroid drugs and adrenaline. For example, lorazepam reduces by 75% when exposed to temperatures above 98 °C. In the meantime, albuterol inhalers can explode when exposed to temperatures above 120 °C. If medications must be removed from the home, they should be carried around in a purse or in a medicine tote that will protect them from the sun’s harmful heat rays.
Don’t Forget About Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products
Heat and humidity cause the aspirin tablets to become acetic acid and salicylic acid, which can cause stomach irritation. Other OTC products simply lose their effectiveness when exposed to hot, humid environments. Even the cotton ball with which many over-the-counter medications are packaged can pose a threat that absorbs moisture from the package and compromises the capsules or tablets it contains.
Do you know what medications increase sun sensitivity?
Sensitivity to sunlight is a side effect of many widely used prescription and over-the-counter medications. Almost all psychiatric drugs increase the patient’s sensitivity to heat and sun and certain medications for psoriasis (methoxsalen), acne (tretinoin) and arthritis (naproxen, piroxicam).
If you notice that your medication has changed in color or viscosity, do not take it. This is a sign of age or damage brought on by extreme temperature change. If you notice a discoloration or strange texture after taking your medication, call your pharmacist or doctor to ask about possible side effects. If you feel faint, itchy, short of breath, dizzy or nauseous after taking questionable medication, seek immediate medical attention to mitigate an allergic reaction or poisoning.