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Did You Know Your Medication Can Do This?

  • Category: LiveSmart
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Sun and heat can be hard to tolerate when you take some of these medications.

Whether you are treating an acute illness, like an infection, or have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you’ve likely been prescribed some type of medication. These drugs are often effective in treating the health condition they’re prescribed for, but may have side effects.

Side effects are typically listed on the medication bottle or in an insert providing more extensive information about the medication. Many people ignore this information because they figure they’ll know if side effects occur, such as if they feel nauseous, dizzy or tired. But some side effects can be controlled by what you do or don’t do while you’re taking the medication.

Here are two medication side effects to be aware of this summer:

Medications may increase the risk of bad sunburns.

One warning you should check for when taking medication is related to sun exposure. That’s because some medications may make you more sensitive to the sun, increasing your risk of a bad sunburn. This is referred to as photosensitivity. If you see a warning about taking extra precautions in the sun or limiting sun exposure, don’t ignore it.

Medications that may affect sun sensitivity include:

  • Antibiotics - tetracyclines (doxycycline and minocycline) and flouroquinolones (Cipro and Levaquin) are by far the most common medicines that increase sun sensitivity 
  • Acne medications
  • Antidepressants 
  • Antifungal medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Antimalarial medications
  • Antiviral medications
  • Autoimmune medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications 
  • Diabetes medications  
  • Heart medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

To protect yourself if you take these medications, avoid direct exposure to the sun as much as possible. Also avoid tanning beds. When outdoors, wear sunscreen and protective clothing.

Medications may make it harder to handle the heat.

Some medications may also make it harder for you to handle the heat. Heat intolerance refers to a condition in which your body has difficulty regulating its temperature properly. It can cause uncomfortable feelings such as nausea and dizziness or even may lead to serious heat-related illness.

Other factors such as age, weight and some health conditions may also make it harder to tolerate the heat. In many cases, people taking medications that cause heat intolerance may also have these other risk factors.

Medications that may affect heat sensitivity include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Decongestants
  • Heart medications
  • Overactive bladder medications
  • Stimulant medications for ADHD

Symptoms of heat intolerance include headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, cramps, flushed skin or weakness. If you notice these signs, get to a cool place as soon as possible. Take sips of cool water, remove excess clothing and place cool compresses on your body. More severe symptoms of heat-related illness include rapid breathing, decreased sweating or altered mental state. If these symptoms occur, seek medical help immediately.

To avoid feeling sick when temperatures soar, don’t spend prolonged periods outdoors when it’s hot and don’t exert yourself. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 17, 2022

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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