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New report shows common medication puts at-risk individuals in danger — and heat is only making matters worse

Be mindful of individual conditions that make heat a bigger hazard for you.

Be mindful of individual conditions that make heat a bigger hazard for you.

Photo Credit: iStock

As if you didn't have enough to do this time of year, add "check your medication regimen" to the list. 

Summer already meant constantly reapplying deodorant and sunscreen, but there's another big reason to look through your bathroom cabinet. 

That's because heat waves can bring unsettling side effects for anyone taking common medications — including standard treatments for ADHD, depression, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and seasonal allergies, reported Scientific American

What's happening?

Heat-related illnesses can happen to anyone. But research shows risks of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke are heightened for those taking a large list of routine pharmaceuticals including Adderall, Ritalin, Zoloft, Prozac, and Benadryl. 

Stimulants, beta-blockers, diuretics, antihypertensives, and anticholinergic medications, among others, "interfere with the body's ability to perceive and protect itself from heat," explained Scientific American.

Using illicit substances like cocaine, ecstasy, and opioids — as well as overconsumption of energy drinks and alcohol — can also increase vulnerability. 

Why is this important?

Skyrocketing summer temperatures are the new normal. Last year marked "the Northern Hemisphere's hottest meteorological summer on record," reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Another sobering statistic: 2023 had the highest-recorded number of heat-related fatalities in the U.S., per the Associated Press.

Hospitalizations for drug-induced hyperthermia (heat illness brought on by medication use) are relatively scarce. But as Adam Blumenberg, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University, said to Scientific American, these numbers "will likely change as heat waves and record-breaking temperatures continue to increase." 

Climate scientists agree: Carbon pollution is a clear culprit for the sweltering summers.

Picture your thickest winter fleece. Probably not what you want to wear on a blazing July afternoon, right?

Say you're the Earth, and that fleece is an atmosphere packed with pollution from burning coal, oil, and gas. You're burning up — but the fabric just keeps getting thicker. Not comfortable. 

Can we do anything about it?

Prepare for summer 2024 to be another scorcher, experts told CBS News

Reduce your risk now by learning the signs of heat illness. Be mindful of individual conditions, including drug regimens, that make heat a bigger hazard for you. Monitor symptoms and side effects. Of course, do not start, pause, or stop any medication without guidance from a medical professional. 

Create a plan to stay cool: hydrate, seek air conditioning, limit outdoor exercise, wear light clothing, and reapply that non-toxic sunscreen

We don't have to live in the dog days forever. Small shifts like upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, driving less, changing food habits, and properly recycling all help reduce pollution. 

That way, the planet doesn't have to sport an unwanted heavy layer all summer long — and neither do we. 

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