What Do Rising Temps Do to Medication?

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Summer is in full swing and it’s hot – really hot. There are lots of good tips on how to stay cool and healthy during extreme heat, but you might wonder how your everyday items might respond to temps in the 90s. For example, you may have noticed that some medication labels instruct you to keep them out of the sun and away from extreme temperatures, but what does the heat really do to common medications? 

Gels, liquids, capsules and pills all have different chemical compounds that can react to extreme temperatures – both hot and cold – and become less effective. This applies to both over the counter and prescription medications, so it’s important to store medication properly.

Here’s a few tips for storing medications:

  • Never leave medications in a very hot or cold car. Take medications straight home after picking them up. If you carry an asthma inhaler or EpiPen, do not leave these in a hot car. If an inhaler canister gets too hot, it can explode.
  • If you opt to have your medications delivered via mail, it may be best to require a signature since the inside of a mailbox can get quite hot, especially during the summer.
  • When home, store your medications at room temperature in a cool, dry place. Avoid moisture prone areas like bathroom cabinets and anywhere with direct sunlight or heat like the top of the refrigerator. This includes medical supplies too! Diabetic testing supplies are sensitive to humidity. If exposed improperly to humidity and extreme temperatures, patients may experience inaccurate readings.
  • Store medications that require refrigeration in your fridge. Don’t leave them out on the counter after use, but instead return to the fridge immediately. If your power goes out, make sure to contact your pharmacy as many refrigerated medications may not be able to be used after being left out.
  • If a medication requires refrigeration (such as insulin) and you are on-the-go, consider carrying a cool pack to keep it at an optimal temperature.
  • If traveling, pack your medications in your carry on instead of your suitcase.

Remember – heat can degrade medications quickly. Always check expiration dates and inspect your medication. If it has expired, changed in color, texture or smell, do not take it. If your medication looks questionable, don’t chance it!

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