Drug-Induced Hyperthermia Can Be Fatal During the Summer Heat

Newark, NJ) – The potential for developing heat-related illness greatly increases as our state experiences prolonged bouts of excessive heat and humidity.

Although residents go about their daily routines regardless of the unbearable heat, the poison control center warns that high heat and humidity can kill when the body is unable to regulate an extremely high internal temperature.

Hyperthermia (heat stroke) not only occurs when temperatures reach dangerous levels, but also from the use of certain therapeutic, recreational and illicit drugs.

These drugs can prevent the body from cooling down through sweating. Too often this results in serious health complications – drug-induced fever and dehydration.

“Excessive heat combined with certain drugs like ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin can be deadly,” says Diane Calello, MD, Executive and Medical Director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

“Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also mask the symptoms of overheating. But it’s not just illicit drugs. Certain medications, like antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, and ADHD medications can also cause hyperthermia when taken during extremely hot and humid weather.

When body temperatures rise to dangerous levels, the brain and body overheat resulting in an increased risk for health-related stroke or death.”

Although it might seem that heat stroke comes on suddenly, warning signs often appear early on. Know the symptoms, prevent a tragedy — abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, weakness, heavy sweat or a lack of sweat, confusion, odd behavior, irritability, delusions, hallucinations, seizures, and coma.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency – it is critical that you act fast. “Think before taking drugs of any kind in the heat,” says Calello. “It might save your life.”

Every minute counts in poisoning situations – Do Not Guess! If you have questions, concerns or an emergency about something you ate, touched or smelled, immediately contact the medical professionals at the New Jersey Poison Control Center, 1-800-222-1222.

You may call, text, or chat with our professionals for free, 24/7. Save the Poison Help line in your phone today to be prepared for what may happen tomorrow. It just may save you back!

If someone is unconscious, not breathing, hard to wake up, or seizing, call 9-1-1 immediately.