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These Meds Can Make You Overheat Quicker

These Meds Can Make You Overheat Quicker

Living in south Louisiana, it’s hard to imagine the heat being any worse than it is, but if you’re on certain medications, the heat and humidity can take a bigger toll on your body and make you more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

The part of the brain called the hypothalamus directs the body to keep a stable core temperature, regulate sweating, which is the body’s main way of cooling down, and dilate blood vessels in the skin, arms, feet and face to alleviate body heat. Some groups of medications can impact your ability to sweat or circulate blood effectively, which impacts your body’s ability to self-regulate its temperature. These include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Beta blockers
  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Amphetamines
  • Diuretics

What many of these drugs have in common is that they’re considered anticholinergics, a broad group of medications that work by blocking the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. They are also used to treat a wide range of conditions, from COPD and gastrointestinal disorders to Parkinson’s disease. In addition, some meds can cause an actual increase in body temperature, including amphetamines commonly used to treat ADHD. Others, like diuretics, can make you dehydrated, which increases your risk of a heat-related illness.

Keep in mind that some populations like older adults are more at risk for heat-related illnesses because their bodies don’t adjust as well to temperature changes. Babies are also at a higher risk because they don’t sweat, which is the body’s way of cooling down. And a pregnant woman’s body has to work harder to cool down both her and the baby.

Whether you are on any of these medication at the moment or not, there are simple ways to reduce your chances of a heat-related illness.

  • For any outdoor activity, aim for early morning or after sunset, avoiding the midday heat
  • Stay hydrated, preferably with water not sports drinks
  • Make sure to have the right gear (i.e., breathable clothing, sunscreen, cooling element)
  • Take breaks in the shade, especially if you work outside
  • Listen to your body and get out of the heat if you need to