• Medication management
  • Medication management

Safe medication management

Written by: Editors

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High temperatures can impact our body and health, especially if we are taking medication. To understand how this works, it's essential to understand the effects of extreme heat on our body.

The effects of heat on our body

Our internal body temperature is regulated in the brain. Our brain checks our current temperature and compares it with the normal temperature of about 37°C. If our temperature is too high it initiates responses to lower it. This can be through sweating, which cools the body by making more moisture on the skin available for evaporation, or through increased blood flow to the skin. These vital processes prevent overheating, especially during periods when temperatures are high.

Increased sensitivity to heat

Some population groups are more sensitive to heat than others, such as elderly people, people with a health condition, young children and obese persons. These people are more prone to heat-related complications such as muscle cramps, headache or concentration difficulties. They also face a higher risk of passing out or slipping into a coma. This increased sensitivity can be attributed to several factors: 

  • Elderly people are unable to regulate their body temperatures as efficiently as young adults. 
  • The reduction in thirst that comes with age can lead to inadequate water intake. 
  • Some medications, like heart medications, high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, antipsychotics and medications for Parkinson’s disease, can impair the body's ability to self-regulate its temperature. 
  • Young children are less able to control their body temperature and make choices to stop themselves overheating. 
  • Fat is an excellent insulator, reducing heat loss via the skin. This makes people who are overweight or obese more susceptible to heat stress. 
  • People who live alone with few outside contacts also have a higher risk of heat-related injuries. 

Medications can impact heat sensitivity

Some medications can affect the way the body is able to tolerate or manage high temperatures. It’s very important to understand how this works and for healthcare providers, such as pharmacists or doctors, to monitor patients for signs of heat-related stress. This can be done, for example, by adjusting the dosage or stopping a medication temporarily. We strongly advise not to stop or alter any medication without first consulting your pharmacist or doctor. If you have any of the following conditions, it's especially important to be cautious during hot weather: 

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure: heart medications and high blood pressure medications flush extra water and sodium (salt) from your body, which can increase the risk of dehydration and fainting. 
  • Bowel problems: if you are having problems with your stool, it is important to ensure your fluid intake is sufficient. 
  • Brain disorders and mental illness: medications used for mental health can change your ability to sweat. 

Some commonly prescribed medications that increase risk from heat

Visit this website for a list of medicines that increase your risk of heat-related illness or injuries.

Safe medication storage practices

Medicines are sensitive to heat, so it’s crucial to store them properly. First and foremost, they should be stored in a cool, dry place below 25°C. Do not store medicines in a bathroom cabinet: the humidity in a bathroom can affect their effectiveness. Always make sure to follow specific storage instructions, especially for medications that require refrigeration.

Medication safety while travelling

There are things to keep in mind when travelling with medication.  

  • If your medication needs to be kept cool, it may be necessary keep it in a cool pack or insulated pouch.  
  • Make sure you travel with enough medication for the length of your trip, including a week’s supply extra in case of delays or to make sure you have enough for when you get home. Order your medication ahead of time from one of our affiliated pharmacies.  
  • Always check the expiration date of your medication before leaving.  
  • Ask your pharmacy for a medication passport: a written record of the medicines you are taking.  
  • Throughout your journey, take care to avoid exposing your medication to extreme temperatures, i.e., away from sources of heat or cold, such as in checked luggage in an aircraft, inside an unattended vehicle on hot summer days, inside a freezers or refrigerator compartment, on a radiator, or in a bag that is worn on the body. 
  • Carry enough medication for the duration of your trip and an extra supply in case the trip extends for any reason. 

Additional advice for using medication during extreme summer temperatures 

  1. Water intake: It is important to drink plenty of water, at least 1.5 to 2 litres a day, depending on your age, health status and environmental conditions. 
  2. Dealing with heat exhaustion: In the event of symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or headache, it is important to move the person to a cool area, offer sips of cool water, and possibly apply a wet towel to the skin to cool down. 
  3. Recognising signs of heat exhaustion: Early signs of heat exhaustion include sweating, fatigue, skin becoming pale or red, and a rapid heart rate. If someone is showing these signs, they need to be cooled down and given fluids. 
  4. Simple tips to prevent heat exhaustion during hot weather: Wear light-coloured, loose clothing, avoid exposure to direct sunlight, and reschedule strenuous physical activity and exercise to cooler times of the day. 
  5. Use medication management apps: There are various apps available that help you remember to take your medications or set reminders for hydrating. Look for apps that meet your specific needs and help you to manage your health in an organised way.  


Managing your medication is something that requires attention and care, not just during hot temperatures, but throughout the year. Heat and humidity can impair the potency and shelf life of medications. By being aware of the effects of heat and moisture on medications, and by taking the right precautions, you can ensure that you can continue to use your medication safely and effectively, no matter where you are. At Dokteronline, we understand the complexities of medication management. We are able to offer expert advice, so please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need support.  

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