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Prescribed, over-the-counter, street drugs, and alcohol

line illustrations of a wine bottle, a prescription bottle, a pile of compressed powder tablets and some gel capsules.

Legal and Illegal drugs:

Many different drugs can impact how our body responds to external heat. 


The list below is not comprehensive so it is best to speak with your pharmacist to ask if any over-the-counter or prescription medications require you to take extra precautions in the heat.


Street drugs can also impact how your body thermoregulates or how aware you are of dehydration or overheating. 


Reminder that alcohol is dehydrating. Also people who have used alcohol for prolonged periods are at particular risk because of the additional stress the body’s response to heat can put on their liver and kidneys.


Migraine and allergy medications (certain antihistamines) and other vasoconstrictors, as well as tricyclic antidepressants, phenothiazines, and anticholinergics, all reduce sweating. 


Beta-blockers also impair the body’s ability to offload heat by slowing blood flow to the skin, while stimulants used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy raise base body temperature. 


Diuretics increase the risk of dehydration.

Other medications that increase the risk of heat-related illnesses include benzodiazepines, calcium channel blockers, laxatives, neuroleptics, and thyroid agonists.


Lithium or statins can become more concentrated and problematic in the blood if there is too much fluid loss. 


Antihypertensives - which are used to lower blood pressure - can combine with the blood vessels that are dilating in response to the heat, resulting in dangerous drops in blood pressure.


Laxatives are dehydrating. 


People with active eating disorders should be mindful of additional risks purging, exerting or depriving body poses during heat waves. 



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