Heat wave: these drugs can prevent our thermoregulation

HEAT WEATHER – “In the event of high heat, certain drugs can prevent or interfere with the thermoregulation of the body”, warns on its website the Health Insurance, citing the syndrome of exhaustion-dehydration and heat stroke, the two main consequences of insufficient thermoregulation.

“Certain drugs increase the elimination of water from the kidneys and can therefore increase dehydration linked to a high temperature […]. Other drugs can prevent the normal functioning of the body’s cooling mechanisms […]”, also explains the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products.

“Certain drugs can also aggravate the effects of heat, by lowering blood pressure or impairing alertness,” adds the ANSM. Which drugs are affected and to which attention should be paid?

Aspirin and paracetamol not recommended

In case of hot weather, the Health Insurance “strongly” advises against takingaspirin or paracetamol for treat fever or headache. “Paracetamol is ineffective in cases of heatstroke, and aspirin can disrupt the body’s thermoregulation,” the organization says.

Other treatments can “increase the effects of the heat wave on the body, or hinder the body’s adaptation to the heat”, she continues. Among them, the Health Insurance cites in particular:

  • drugs that can cause or worsen dehydration “by increasing water loss from the kidneys”, such as diuretics

  • drugs that may affect kidney function: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsaspirin, certain antihypertensives, antibiotics, antidiabetics, antivirals, etc.

  • drugs that can aggravate thermoregulation problems: some neurolepticsantiparkinsonians, antidepressantsetc.

  • “drugs that limit increased cardiac output such as diuretics and beta-blockers”

  • them anti-migraine“which sometimes prevent vasodilation [augmentation de la taille des vaisseaux sanguins] or reduce perspiration”

  • them sleeping tablets or anxiolytics, “drugs that reduce alertness and the ability to adapt behavior to fight against heat”

Health insurance also indicates that the action of certain drugs can be modified in the event of high heat. “In general, you have to be careful with transdermal devices (patches), the effectiveness of which can be modified by perspiration”, she specifies. The elimination of antiepileptics or oral antidiabetics can also be modified by dehydration.

On its website, the ANSM lists in more detail the list of drugs that can amplify the effects of the heat wave on the body.

“This does not justify stopping treatment on your own initiative”

“Even if certain medications can play a role in the aggravation of problems linked to high heat, this never justifies stopping a treatment on its own initiative, nor even reducing it or interrupting it for a few days”, nevertheless supports health insurance. It is in fact up to the attending physician to assess the situation on a case-by-case basis.

The ANSM also points out that studies carried out on the risk factors for death following the heat wave of August 2003 have shown that while drug treatments could “promote the onset of heat stroke”, they did not conclude for as much to “the existence of a causal link between taking a drug and death”.

“In most cases, a drug does not represent a risk on its own, especially if it is used correctly. Other risk factors, such as illness or old age, must be taken into consideration”, recalls the ANSM.

See also on The HuffPost: “Heat wave or heat wave, how do you tell the difference?”


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