Summer adds risks for certain medications

The Juneau County area is known for outdoor recreation. During the summer months, boating, swimming, fishing, biking and hiking provide countless hours of enjoyment.

To ensure that your fun isn't stopped in its tracks, it is important to know whether or not you or your loved ones are taking medications that can increase your risk of experiencing sunburn, dehydration or muscle cramps. If you are, there are precautions you can take so that you can continue to enjoy your time in the sun.


A silent side effect of some medication is that your skin’s ability to withstand UV rays can be compromised. This can lead to a skin reaction that looks to be exaggerated sunburn, even after short periods of time in the sun.

Higher risk medications
-Anti-cancer medications
-Furosemide (Lasix)
-SulfaTrimethoprim (Bactrim)

Lower risk medications
-Diphenhyrdramine (Benadryl)
-Ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil)
-Naproxen (Aleve)

If you are taking a short-term medication (such as an antibiotic) that has a sunlight warning on its label, it is best to avoid extended exposure to UV rays. If you do go out into the sun, be sure to protect your skin by using a strong sunscreen and/or wearing a hat and long sleeves (dress in style!). If you are taking one of these medications on a long-term basis (especially when just starting out) take extra precautions when outdoors until you know how your skin will react to the sun’s warm rays. As always, be sure to choose a waterproof sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.


Dehydration is constantly a concern in the hot summer months. Children, individuals with diabetes, and senior citizens are particularly at risk. “Drink plenty of water” is the golden rule; and beyond that, it is wise to take frequent breaks when it’s hot and humid. Other great tips to avoid dehydration are to have an extra bottle of water or two available when active outside, and to include a re-hydrating low-sugar drink such as Pedialyte®, Powerade Zero®, or Gatorade G2®.

Not only can muscle cramps stop the fun of a summer’s day, they can actually be dangerous when you’re swimming or taking a long hike. Cramps are often due to dehydration, so avoiding muscle cramping can sometimes be as simple as staying hydrated. When making choices on your beverages, keep in mind that both caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating drinks, so coffee and beer are not going to help with hydration.

In addition, if you are taking a medication that increases your risk of dehydration or cramping, eating a diet rich in potassium and magnesium, or taking over-the-counter supplements, may help. As always, be sure to consult your primary care provider about any supplements you are taking or wish to take.

Higher risk medications
-Furosemide (Lasix)

Lower risk medications
-Blood pressure medications
-Diphenhyrdramine (Benadryl)

Don't let sunburn, dehydration or muscle cramps keep you from enjoying summer outdoor activities. When you make plans to soak up the sun, first consult with your provider or a pharmacist. Be safe by knowing your risks and making efforts to protect yourself and your health.

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