Prescription for trouble: Medications can make it harder to fight heat

Older patients are more likely to have issues
Prescription for trouble: Medications can make it harder to fight heat
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 3:02 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 17, 2023 at 5:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Our extreme heat poses a danger many of us don’t even know about: certain prescription medications make us more susceptible to heat-related injuries and illnesses. That’s especially true for seniors. Patients over 65 already make up almost half of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. But older patients with chronic conditions are also much more likely to go to the hospital with effects from heat-sensitizing medication. When you consider about 85% of seniors have a chronic condition that requires medication, we’re talking about significant risk.

  1. Antidepressants and antihistamines can both inhibit a person’s ability to sweat.
  2. Beta--blockers, often taken for heart conditions, can reduce the heart and lungs’ healthy reaction to stress, increasing likelihood of stroke or heat illness.
  3. Diuretics, often taken by those with kidney disease, encourage fluid loss.
  4. Sedatives make a person less aware of symptoms of heat stress.
  5. Antibiotics can increase sun sensitivity.

Even non-prescription medications can be a prescription for trouble.

”There’s over the counter medications that could alter or slow down the blood flow, which is another method by which we need to cool ourselves,” said Mark Goldstein from Senior Helpers of Tucson.

“Seniors are also robbed of hydration for a variety of reasons. Seniors often don’t hydrate enough because they’re trying to manage their bathroom visits. Sometimes, they’re drinking too much of the wrong thing, coffee, alcohol, sugary sodas,” Goldstein said.

It’s important for older patients to organize and time medications and drink plenty of water. If you have an elderly person in your life, make sure you or a caretaker checks in and talks to them about their medicines.

You can watch more of Brooke Wagner’s interview with Mark Goldstein here:

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