MONTREAL, July 16, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Taking precautions to beat the
heat? You may not realize that your child's prescription medications
need protecting as well. As you seek cool, shady spots while on
vacation, or at home, don't leave your medicines behind in the car, say
experts at The Montreal Children's Hospital (MCH) of the McGill
University Health Centre (MUHC).
"Most medications need to be stored in a controlled room temperature,
between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius," says Patricia Vandecruys, Site
Coordinator of the Pharmacy Department at The Montreal Children's
Hospital. "Many prescription drugs are very sensitive to changes in
temperature and humidity, and their potency and effectiveness can be
altered if they are exposed to extreme heat."
Egg on a sidewalk analogy
The active ingredient in some medications may break down at temperatures
higher than 30 degrees Celsius. Much like what would happen to an egg
when cracked on the sidewalk in extreme heat - the yolk and egg white
change from liquid to solid as the egg cooks. Liquid medications and
creams can potentially lose their stability in high heat conditions as
the suspension or emulsion may separate. Capsules, powders and pills
can also degrade under high heat.
"The breakdown of meds may result in potentially harmful effects," says
Ms. Vandecruys. "What's worse, you can't necessarily tell if the
medication has been altered."
Some meds, however, can stay stable during short periods of moderately
high temperature, explains Ms. Vandecruys.
"If you're going for a day trip, it's best to take only the quantity of
medication you need," she says. "Leave medication bottles behind in a
hotel room or at home. If your child has been prescribed very sensitive
products, such as insulin, thyroid medication or antibiotics, put the
medication in a specialized cool pack which can be purchased at the
Not sure whether your child's medications can withstand high
temperatures? It is important to read the label. If your child's
medication bottle does not have a detailed label, ask your pharmacist
who is most qualified to answer your questions about the safety of your
Don't leave meds in the car
Medications should never be stored in a car, especially not in the trunk
or glove compartment, as temperatures inside a closed vehicle can get
extremely hot. As well, when traveling by air, always carry medications
in flight as opposed to packing them in your checked luggage.
Do not administer any medications that are discolored, have an unusual
odor, texture, or appear damaged, and don't use creams that have
Meds at risk
Any life-saving medication such as heart medications, seizure drugs,
hormone therapy drugs and insulin (including glucose test strips)
should not be exposed to heat, even during short excursions.
If there's a prolonged power outage in your area, contact your
pharmacist to determine whether your child's prescription needs to be
"Exposure to heat can make these drugs less effective," says Ms.
Vandecruys. "This is definitely something you can't afford to treat
Beware of heat-related illness, sun sensitivity
It is also important to note that some medications can increase the risk
of heat related illness, especially in older adults: beta-blockers,
antiparkinson agents, antidepressants and diuretics are but a few.
Other medications may cause increased sensitivity to the sun, otherwise
known as photosensitivity. Your pharmacist should let you know if there
are extra precautions you need to take while on a certain medication,
but if unsure, you should always double-check.
About The Montreal Children's Hospital
The Montreal Children's Hospital (MCH) is the pediatric teaching
hospital of the McGill University Health Centre and is affiliated with
McGill University. The MCH is a leader in providing a broad spectrum of
highly specialized care to newborns, children, and adolescents from
across Quebec. Our areas of medical expertise include programs in brain
development/behavior, cardiovascular sciences, critical care, medical
genetics and oncology, tertiary medical and surgical services, and
trauma care. Fully bilingual, the hospital also promotes
multiculturalism and serves an increasingly diverse community in more
than 50 languages. The Montreal Children's Hospital sets itself apart
with its team approach to innovative patient care. Our health
professionals and staff are dedicated to ensuring children and their
families receive exceptional health care in a friendly and supportive
SOURCE THE MONTREAL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
For further information:
Montreal Children's Hospital
McGill University Health Centre
514-412-4400 ext. 22742