Summer Tips for Managing Medications

Proper medication management is important all year-long, but it’s especially important in the summer when temperatures rise and the sun is shining bright. What are some smart ways to manage medications during the summer months?

Know if Your Medication May Cause Dehydration

Diuretic medications increase the loss of fluids by causing frequent urination and therefore can put patients at risk of dehydration. Some examples of diuretic medications include blood pressure medications, laxatives, and chemotherapy. Other medications can increase fluid loss through side effects like:

  • Increased sweating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When the body loses fluids, it also loses essential salts and minerals, so it’s important to replace lost fluids with something more than just water. If you’re taking a diuretic medication, stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids (especially those with electrolytes) and eating foods with high water content (like fruits and vegetables). 

Know if Your Medication May Cause Sensitivity to the Sun

Some medications can increase the way a person’s body reacts to the sun, making them more susceptible to sunburn, and can even trigger an allergic reaction to sun exposure. The results of sun exposure when taking a medication that causes sun sensitivity can include severe sunburns, rashes, hives, or blisters.

Examples of drugs that cause an increased likelihood of sunburn include antibiotics, certain antidepressants, and even some over-the-counter pain relievers. If your medication is known to increase sun sensitivity, make sure to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid being out in the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight
  • Wear light-colored clothing (a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a wide-brimmed hat) when outdoors
  • Generously apply and frequently re-apply a board spectrum sunscreen

Keep Medications Out of the Sun and the Heat

Extreme heat and sunlight can alter how medications work—they can either increase or decrease a medication’s potency. Don’t leave your medication in a bag in the car or laying on a table in the sun, even just 30 minutes can be enough to alter your medication. 

Don’t take pills that have changed color, odor, or consistency (unusually soft or hard). If you take insulin, do not use it if it looks cloudy or has particles floating in it. If you notice any physical changes in your medication, consult your pharmacist. Your pharmacist will advise you as to whether you’ll need a new prescription. 

Keep Your Medications Close When Traveling 

When traveling, it can be tempting to pack all of your things into one bag and stow it out of sight. But it can be impossible to know if your medications were stored within the recommended temperature range throughout the duration of your trip. 

Always keep your medications on you when traveling. The temperatures of the areas where you’ll be are more likely to be suitable for proper medication storage compared to luggage storage areas. If you’re traveling by car, keep medications in the car with you (where you’re more likely to have the AC on) instead of in the trunk, or pack them in a cooler with frozen gel packs. If traveling by plane, keep your medications with you in your carry-on luggage, as aircraft cargo holds aren’t always temperature-controlled. 

Ask Your Pharmacist About Your Prescription Medication

Ask your pharmacist if you need to take extra precautions this summer with any of your prescription medications. Properly storing medications ensures a safe and effective treatment. Knowing the side effects of your medications will allow you to take the proper precautions to avoid health risks such as dehydration and adverse skin reactions.