Last week marked the first official day of summer, and for many this time of year is when we look forward to hitting the cabin, camping or going on a road trip to a vacation destination. For those of us that also travel with our prescription medication, it’s good to be aware of how to be smart about traveling and protecting that medication from the rising summer heat.
Temperatures can really affect how a prescription drug works; you need to be aware that storage at high temperatures can quickly degrade the potency and stability of many medications. No drug should be exposed to temperatures higher than 86 degrees. It is recommend most of their products be stored at a controlled room temperature of 68 to 77 degrees, but in general short time periods of exposure to temperatures that range from 58 to 86 degrees fall within the guidelines outlined by most manufactures of the medication.
That 86 degree level can easily be exceeded on a hot day if left out at a cabin, or in the trunk on a long car ride. Always store medication in a cool dry place because humidity can also damage medication, and especially diabetic test strips can give false reading if exposed to moisture. Despite the name, the medicine cabinet is often the worst place to store drugs because of the frequent high humidity in the bathroom. Keep medicines in a cool, dry place, and out of the sun. If traveling or camping, don’t store your medication or leave it in a sweltering car and try to make sure your tent or trailer camper is in the shade if you are storing medication at your campsite.
A special note about insulin and other refrigerated products: It can easily degrade if it is frozen or too hot. Unopened bottles of insulin are best kept in the refrigerator. Open bottles, however, can be kept at room temperature, which also makes injections more comfortable.
During summer, if you take prescription medications, pay particular attention to any unusual symptoms that may suggest your medication isn’t working properly. These sorts of symptoms may be a sign that your medication has lost potency due to heat. Your first contact person should always be your pharmacist. Contact CanadaDrugs.com through our “Ask a Pharmacist” if you feel your drugs have been exposed to extreme temperatures. They are a good resource for what your next steps should be. Never take any medication that has changed color or consistency, regardless of the expiration date. Check also for an unusual odor. Discard pills that stick together, are chipped or are harder or softer than normal.
Enjoy the summer, and enjoy the sun and heat too, but be smart about how you travel with medications. A few precautions can guarantee that you won’t have to worry about temperature or humidity damage when you leave home this summer with your pills.