Winter has this destructive image of freezing everything, turning earth into an uninhabitable planet. At the same time, summer is seen as vacation time – beach, ocean, tropical cocktails. Is there anything to worry about when summer is coming? Not sure about that one. Especially with a viewpoint on cold chain drugs, it makes everyday life way more complicated. To keep medications, as well as patients, cool in the upcoming hot season, avoiding direct sunlight and drinking water won’t be enough.
Not only the human body heats up in summer. Medications are temperature-sensitive goods that change or lose their effects when exposed to high temperatures. Most of the time, it’s not possible to look at the drugs and see whether they got ruined or not. In case any medication has changed in color or viscosity, never take it. This is a sign of age or damage brought on by extreme temperature change.
Medications coming in soft or liquid texture are way more sensitive to temperature changes than pills or sugar-coated tablets. Suppositories, cremes, ointments, juices, and dissolutions need to be taken care of when the summer heat is reaching its peak. Otherwise, suppositories melt and change their composition, making them unusable. Within cremes, the liquid and the hard components dissolve and ruin the medication. Also, bandaids with active ingredients and asthma sprays lose their effects if they get too hot.
Keep it cool, but don’t freeze it.
No matter if liquid or hard drugs, keeping the drugs cool is always the best solution. Even if pills can be exposed to a temperature of +50°C for about half an hour without losing their effects, it’s way out of their comfort zone. Adding to this, drugs should never be left in a parked car in summer. It can quickly get up to +70°C inside of the vehicle just within half an hour. Even temperature fluctuations that last only five to ten minutes can irrevocably damage the medication. It’s best to make the pharmacy the last stop when running errands.
But whenever cooling the drugs, it’s essential to make sure they don’t freeze. This mostly happens when cold chain drugs are put into a passive cooler where they get in direct contact with the cooling pads. Another example of accidentally freezing medicines is while storing them in a regular fridge. They get too close to the cooling mechanism of the refrigerator and start freezing. In the case of air travel, the drugs should be kept in the hand luggage due to too low temperatures combined with the pressure of high altitude in the cargo area of planes.
Drugs interfering with the body’s cooling mechanism
Insulin is one drug that must be kept cool during the whole year. This also accounts for vaccines, biologicals for rheumatism treatment and other protein-based medications as well as several herbal drugs. Insulin and nitroglycerin may become life-threatening when compromised. Unopened medications should be cooled down all the time, while opened bottles must be stored at room temperature protected from sunlight and humidity, which causes condensation and dilute the prescription. Read more about the five most common cold chain drugs.
In some cases, drugs can change the way the patient’s body reacts to heat. These drugs may block sweating or increase the body’s heat production. Seizure medications and antihistamines like Claritin and Benadryl, as well as Parkinson’s disease medications, also inhibit sweat production. In this case, the chances of getting hyperthermia, an overheating of the body, are high. Fever, dizziness, circulation problems, confusion, and even short unconsciousness are possible symptoms. Any of these symptoms should be reacted to with a doctor’s visit.
Humidity as another danger for your drugs
The medicine cabinet in the bathroom is a common choice for medication storage. While a summer heatwave is going through the country, it is subject to too much humidity to be a logical storage place. Especially after taking a shower, the humidity level in the bathroom will raise extremely high. The big problem: Moisture is especially damaging to quick-dissolve tablets and powders.
In some cases, it makes sense to think about a professional active cooling solution for cold chain drugs. The NelumBox provides tracking of temperature, humidity as well as access. This makes it a safe, reliable, and innovative solution for anyone in need of cold-chain drugs. For further information, visit our product website or send us an email at info(at)tec4med.com.