Hot Weather Advice for Patients

Heat waves strike parts of Europe and, in the U.S., even Alaska bakes

Broiling sun and rising thermometer

For people who are managing serious medical conditions, summer heat makes it harder to stay hydrated and creates practical problems, like how to keep medicine at its recommended storage temperature.

While oppressive temperatures continue for both Europe and the United States here are tips on both:

Why infusion patients should hydrate

Hydration is especially important for patients who take medicine by intravenous or subcutaneous (under the skin) infusions. Finding a vein is more difficult if a person hasn’t had enough fluids, said Cheryl McShea, who works with hemophilia and bleeding disorder patients, including younger ones attending summer camp in Pennsylvania. Good hydration also helps patients who have primary immunodeficiencies feel better before and after an immunoglobulin infusion, said Elyse Murphy, Associate Director of CSL Behring’s Immunology Field Team.

The advice is old hat but it works: Drink a lot of fluids, especially water. Stay out of the heat as much as you can. Get more tips at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Extreme Heat website.

When a patient has a respiratory condition, they face worsening air quality in summer, said Eva Maroto, a respiratory therapist with Fundación Lovexair, a patient-focused organization based in Spain. Keep exercising for good health, but move it indoors, where you’ll sweat less, Maroto suggests.

Beware of overheated medicines

Keeping yourself cool is critical, but it’s also important to keep infusion medicines stored at the right temperature. What if your medicine gets delivered to the wrong house and sits outside on a hot day? Step one is knowing what the safe storage requirements are for your medicine.

You can find that information in the prescribing information, said Deirdre Smith, CSL Behring’s Associate Director for Medical Information in North America. If you have questions, call your pharmacy, healthcare provider or the company that manufactures the medicine, she said.

Primary immunodeficiency patient Lynne Doebber uses insulated bags when taking her meds on the road. Cars get very hot when they’re turned off and the air conditioning isn’t running. The opposite problem can arise if traveling by air. Cargo holds on airplanes get very cold and experts recommend keeping medicines with you on the plane, rather than checking them. That also reduces the chances you’ll get separated from your medicines, should your baggage get lost.

For more tips about traveling with medicines, hear from pharmacists who created this guide for patients.