Certain Medications and Extreme Heat Don't Mix

CEREDO, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Lorene Goodwin was at the doctor's office Wednesday afternoon. She has high blood pressure and was in for just a checkup, but the heat was still taking its toll.

"I can only go outside for a bit in the morning," Goodwin says. "If I go out later in the day, I just can't breathe."

Almost half the country is under a heat advisory as the heat index hovers around the 100-degree mark.

Some medications make people more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. They include certain blood pressure medications, especially diuretics (water pills).

Certain psychiatric medications also block the body's message to the brain regarding the elevated temperature. Stimulants and decongestants actually reduce blood flow to the skin.

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department has issued these tips:

  • Those most at risk of being harmed by extreme heat are children under 5 years of age; adults 65 and older; people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes and asthma; obese people; and people on diuretics, antidepressants and tranquilizers.

  • If you do not have air conditioning, use a fan to keep air circulating. This is not helpful, though, when the temperature is above 90 degrees or the humidity is above 35 percent.

  • Avoid being outdoors for long periods of time.

  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing such as cotton, etc.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine.

  • Avoid exercise or strenuous activity in the extreme heat.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Headaches, dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

  • Weakness and moist skin

  • Mood changes such as irritability or confusion

  • Upset stomach or vomiting

Goodwin has listened to her doctor's advice. She knows the medications she's taking and the heat just don't mix.

"They told me not to be out in the hot sun cause it would cause you to pass out or something in it because of that medicine," Goodwin says, "so, I try to listen."

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