Summer Heat and Your Meds – What’s The Link?
Martha Hunt, MA CAMF
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certain medications such as psychotropic medications, antidepressants, or alcohol can change how your body responds to heat and how well you recognize that you are in danger of overheating. Heatstroke occurs when the body unable to cool itself and internal body temperatures rise to levels that may cause irreversible brain damage and death.
Psychotropic medications are medications used to treat the symptoms of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications can interfere both with your ability to regulate your body temperature and your awareness that you are overheating.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the risk for heat-related illness and death may also increase among people who use medications for Parkinson’s disease (because they can inhibit perspiration), those who use tranquilizers and users of diuretic medications or "water pills" that affect fluid balance in the body. Certain antihistamines can also lead to heat stroke
Also watch out for nutrition supplements that boost your metabolism or advertise that you will lose weight or build muscle. These supplements increase the risk of heat stroke by revving up metabolism. This can produce extreme amounts of body heat and can lead to death or brain injury.
For more information on heat injury, visit the CDC's “Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety” (http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/) for information on how to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illnesses.