Most medication leaflets state that medicines should be stored in a cool, dry place and away from sunlight. Specifically, many medicines can be stored at between 15°C and 25°C (for more information on this topic, see our health tip "Storing medications correctly"
). In summer, special care must be taken to protect medicines from extreme heat and bright sunlight, even when they are in a first-aid kit or bag.
Efficacy is adversely affected
Heat can damage medicines in any form. Active ingredients may be distributed irregularly or may even break down, and chemical reactions may occur. Sometimes the components separate. This is fairly obvious in the case of creams or suppositories, but loss of efficacy is not always easy to see. Juices, solutions and sprays are susceptible. In fact, sprays may rupture or even explode if overheated. “In case of doubt, it's best to consult a doctor or pharmacist”, says Daniel Kreyenbühl, Head of Medication Consultation at santé24. "They can provide information about correct storage."
Heat can impair efficacy
And it's not only the medicines that can be affected by heat. The way that people react to them can also change. For example, some medicines can produce unwanted effects because their concentration in the body increases excessively. The following issues may also arise:
Some antibiotics, psychotropic drugs, heart medicines and St. John's wort make the skin more sensitive to light and therefore increase the risk of sunburn. Anti-inflammatories (e.g. diclofenac and ibuprofen) can also cause severe skin reactions.
- Thyroid hormone preparations, some antidepressants, antihistamines and anticholinergics affect the body's temperature regulation system and can lead to overheating.
- Patients taking diuretics may lose too much fluid due to the heat.
- Patients with high blood pressure who are taking antihypertensive medicines may suddenly find that their blood pressure is too low because high ambient temperatures tend to make the blood pressure drop in any case. Patients should measure their blood pressure more frequently, and it may also be advisable to adjust the dosage temporarily, but only if this is advised by a doctor.
For questions about the right way to store medicines or the correct dosage, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 medication consultation service. Simply call us on +41 (0)44 404 86 86 to arrange an appointment.