Why extreme heat can be dangerous if you’re on medications

Health experts urge people to take extra precautions

SAN ANTONIO – As extreme heat conditions continue to grip our region, health experts urge everyone -- especially people on medications -- to take extra precautions.

The combination of scorching temperatures and certain medications can pose significant risks to our health.

Health officials say its essential to be aware of how the heat can interact with certain drugs, potentially leading to adverse effects.

So, we’re having some of our patients coming in with some elevated blood pressure readings, which we can see blood pressure going a little bit high in the heat,” said Dr. Linu Samuel, Central Medical Director, of Dedicated Senior Medical Center in San Antonio.

Samuel said in extreme heat conditions, the body’s ability to regulate temperature can be severely compromised. This is particularly concerning to individuals who are on medications that affect the body’s ability to sweat. One common example is allergy medications.

“In the way that they work, they reduce blood flow. And by reducing blood flow, that decreases our ability to sweat in our skin, to thermal, regulate or control this temperature. And that can put us at increased risk for heat exposure,” Samuel said.

Other drugs like diuretics can further exacerbate dehydration -- potentially leading to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

“The best thing to do is not necessarily stop taking them, because those medications are being prescribed for a specific reason. But the best thing to do is continue those medications, make sure you’re staying well hydrated, drinking plenty of water throughout the day, plenty of fluids,” Samuel said.

It’s essential to avoid direct sun exposure during peak heat hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., seek shade whenever possible, and wear lightweight, breathable clothing to help your body regulate its temperature.

Samuel also advises to keep your medications in a cool area to ensure their effectiveness.

“There are also certain medications like insulin and insulin-type products that are required to be stored in a cool temperature, like a refrigerator. So, leaving those in your car can damage those medications and or it can change how well they work,” he said.

As temperatures soar, health experts say it’s critical to take proper precautions and ensure the safety and efficacy of your medications. Read the labels, store them correctly, and, if in doubt, consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

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About the Authors

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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