If you live in a hot climate and do not have air conditioning, you may want to consider keeping your meds in the refrigerator
If you've ever taken a medication -- whether prescription or over-the-counter drugs like Advil -- you've likely read the labeling instructions for proper storage. Many medications' labels recommend storage at room temperature, as well as avoiding excess temperatures, above 104 degrees, for example. But what happens when medications are stored above room temperature, particularly in the extreme heat of the summer?
Amy Peak, Director of Drug Information Services for Butler University, tells TheDoctor that "the technical definition of room temperature is general storage between 68 and 77 degrees F, but also allowing for temporary excursions as low as 59 degrees F, and as high as 86 degrees F." Experts say that storing medications over 86 degrees -- a fairly typical summer temperature in many areas of the country -- can have a significant effect on their potency. And, depending on where you live, summer temperatures can rise to over 100 degrees indoors, if you don't have air conditioning. What's worse, car interiors can rise to over 160 degrees, which can be especially harmful to your medications.
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For example, when stored over 98 degrees, lorazepam and diazepam decrease potency by 75 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Albuterol inhalers for asthma can explode when stored in temperatures over 120 degrees; even in moderately high temperatures, they deliver less of the chemical than when they are stored at room temperature. In fact, any medication that is contained in an aerosolized container can explode in temperatures over 120 degrees.