Summer Medication Safety for Seniors

June 25, 2018 | by CPS


Summer is a time to go outside and enjoy warm weather with family and friends. While enjoying the sun, seniors on medication should take precautions to stay healthy and safe. Certain medications can lead to sunlight sensitivity, heat intolerance or dehydration.

Sunlight Sensitivy

When using topical, oral or injection medication, sun exposure can lead to skin inflamation, rash and eczema. Examples of these types of medications include:

  • - Antibiotics (Quinonlones, Tetracyclines and Sulfonamindes)
  • - Anti-diabetic agents (Sulfonlyureas)
  • - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • - Thiazide diuretics

Symptoms may vary based on the medication dosage and the amount of time spent in the sun.

Heat Intolerance

Hot summer days can be dangerous for seniors. When on medication, the body's reaction to heat and humidy can lesson. Examples of how certain medications can make handling heat more challenging include:

  • - Beta blockers - Prevents the release of excess heat
  • - Haloperidol (Haldol) and Risperidone (Risperdol) - Blocks the ability to notice rising body temperature
  • - Tricyclic antidepressants and over-counter medications containing diphenhydramine (Benedryl and Dramamine) - Reduces sweat

When any of the above happen, overheating or possible heat stroke can occur. Symptoms to watch for include nausea, vomiting, heat changes, confusion, decrease sweating and fainting.


It is important to drink fluids during the summer to replenish what is lost during sweating. Some medications contribute to fluid loss, which makes dehydration a possbility. This includes:

  • - Antihistamines
  • - Chemotherapy drugs
  • - Diuretics or 'water pills' used for conditions such as edema, hypertension and glaucoma
  • - Laxatives

Symptoms of dehydration can include lightheadedness and fatigue. If left unattended, dizziness, confusion and racing heartbeat can also arise.

It is important to stay informed about the side effects associated with the types of medication and dosage being taken. A CPS Pharmacist can help explain what precautions to take before spending time in the sun. Avoiding sunlight sensitivity, heat intolerance or dehydration will help make this a safe and healthy summer for seniors.

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