Certain medicines increase the risk of heatstroke


Anyone can develop heatstroke during the hot days of summer and year-round in tropical climates. It is triggered by exertion in the heat or prolonged exposure to the hot weather, which causes the body to overheat. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated, it can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys, and other vital organs and muscles. The damage worsens without treatment, increasing the risk of serious harm or death.

Some medicines can increase your risk of heatstroke because they make it harder for your body to stay hydrated and respond to the heat. Your body has ways to keep itself cool during hot weather or exercise, but certain medicines can prevent this cooling from happening. Be particularly careful in hot weather if you take:

  • Allergy medicines and migraine headache medicines that narrow your blood vessels (vasoconstrictors)
  • Blood pressure/heart medicines that block adrenaline (beta-blockers)
  • Water pills that rid the body of sodium and water (diuretics)
  • Medicines used to treat depression and other mental health illness (antidepressants and antipsychotics)
  • Medicines used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (stimulants)

Here’s what you can do: Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medicines you take could put you at risk for heatstroke. If you know about the risk, you can be prepared and take precautions to prevent heatstroke. Symptoms of heatstroke may include a high body temperature, confusion, agitation, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, headache, and a racing heart rate. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

Created on July 29, 2016

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