Summer temperatures are rising: Don’t let your medications overheat

Doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say leaving your prescriptions, or even your over-the-counter pain killers, in your vehicle can damage their effectiveness.

“Medications can be altered by extreme heat and even moisture, causing them to become less potent before their expiration dates,” said Dr. Hani Jneid, associate professor of medicine – cardiology at Baylor and interventional cardiologist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

Examples to consider

Aspirin can begin to break down into acetic acid and salicylic acid, both of which can irritate the stomach and not have the intended medicinal effect.


Dr. Sarah Bezek, assistant professor of medicine – emergency medicine at Baylor, and her colleagues at Harris Health’s Ben Taub Hospital said that some medications are more sensitive to heat than others.

Some medications for hypothyroidism should be stored away from light and moisture and at a temperature no higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Open vials of insulin, a medication for diabetes that should be stored at room temperature, can lose its strength when exposed to higher temperatures.

In general, most medications should be kept in a cool, dry location and in their original container but it’s a good idea to read and follow the exact storage directions on the prescription bottle, or ask your pharmacist at pick up.

Storage tips

  • Never leave medications inside an unattended vehicle.
  • While driving, keep medications in passenger areas of the vehicle, not in the trunk or glove box.
  • Don’t store medications in the bathroom because of high humidity and frequent temperature changes.
  • Keep all medications away from appliances that generate heat such as above the refrigerator.
  • Immediately pick up all mail-order drugs so they’re not exposed to the elements.

 Safety reminders

 Call your doctor or pharmacist if:

  •  Medication has changed color, texture, or odor
  • Capsules or tablets that stick together are harder or softer than normal
  • Capsules are cracked or chipped

Another safety reminder is to make sure prescription drugs are also in a location that’s locked to ensure they do not end up in the wrong hands.

-By Graciela Gutierrez

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