Medications that Increase Risk for Heat Stroke

Summer is at full height in August. While enjoying the summer sun and the outdoors this month, it’s also important to be aware of medications you’re currently taking before going outside.

Not only is it more difficult to regulate your temperature as you age, but the medications you’re taking may increase the risk of heat stroke. It’s important to be aware of these side effects so your loved one can stay safe while enjoying the outdoors.

Medications & Their Side Effects

1. Antihistamines. These medications are typically used to treat nasal congestion, allergies, and/or the common cold. These can decrease the body’s ability to sweat and cool itself, and may also cause dry mouth and urinary retention. Some common over-the-counter antihistamines include Zyrtec, Benadryl, Claritin, and Allegra.

2. Beta-blockers. Beta-blockers are common blood-pressure medications that older adults may take. These medications can slow the blood-flow to the skin, thereby making it harder for the body to rid the skin of heat. Common beta-blockers include metoprolol, atenolol, labetalol, and carvedilol.

3. Antipsychotics. Antipsychotics such as Lithium can cause dehydration, dry mouth, and urinary retention.

4. Diuretics. Diuretics such as Lasix rid the body of sodium and water, which can lead to dehydration and increase risk of heat stroke.

5. Antibiotics. Some antibiotics can increase your sensitivity to heat and sunlight, making more likely to burn. Some of these medications include ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and levofloxacin. Antifungals such as flucytosine, griseofulvin, and voricanozole also increase sun sensitivity.

How to Prevent It

It’s important to read your medication labels and assess their side-effects to decrease risk of sun-related illnesses. Here are some ways to help prevent heat stroke in the elderly:

· Drink plenty of water.

· Stay in the shade, and cool your house off with air conditioning.

· Dress for the weather—wear a hat to keep cool, and opt for lightweight clothing when outdoors.

· Avoid crowded areas.

· Exercise indoors or early in the morning.

· Take rests when you need it.

· Use sunscreen.

Happier at Home strives to keep your loved one safe while instilling a sense of independence. Our caregivers can help your loved one stay cool during the summer months while also keeping in mind their specific needs.