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Residents should be wary of medications mixing with heat exposure

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

Summer so far has thrown Valley residents an unexpected combination of high temperatures and extreme storms, the most recent of which has resulted in thousands of power outages. Through the chaos, it's important that certain patients remain aware of side effects and storage circumstances of their medications.

According to Jim Wells, Director of Pharmacy at Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, there are simple changes people can make to keep their medications in better condition for longer periods of time.

"If pills are just going to be in a spot for short periods of time, then it's not a real issue," he said. "But what you shouldn't do is leave medications in glove compartments or sitting in a hot car."

He said that medications, besides those requiring a cool atmosphere, like insulin, shouldn't be kept in the refrigerator either.

"Moisture is the enemy of pills, so putting them in the cabinet above the sink isn't a good idea either," he said. "Dampness can do more damage than good."

Wells said that some medications also increase sensitivity to sunlight and heat, most of them being liquid pills.

"They all have warnings on the label, so it doesn't hurt to check," he said. "Sometimes they can result in a bumpy red rash or they can make someone more prone to getting a sun burn."

Some medications prescribed to patients with lyme disease can also make you lose fluids.

"A lof of people are combining medications too, and that's another reason to check labels if you'll be out in the heat or might overexert yourself," Wells said.

As for the recent power outage, Wells said the pharmacy's biggest issue was being without internet, which complicated dealings with insurance agencies.

"Other than that we didn't have many issues from folks," he said.

However, Wells suggested that if a home did lose power and reached over 80 degrees, sensitive medications should probably be thrown out. He added that most ever insurance carrier allows some type of emergency-type refill in that situation.

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