The weather is getting hotter and although many people are out enjoying the sunshine, if you have a long-term condition there’s a few things you need to consider. We share some tips for keeping cool in the hot weather, as well as medical advice for those living with adrenal insufficiency and AVP Deficiency (Diabetes Insipidus)

The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  • dehydration (not having enough water)
  • overheating
  • heat exhaustion
  • heatstroke

Who is most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but those with long term (chronic) conditions are amongst the most vulnerable people in extreme heat, plus:

  • older people, especially those over 75
  • babies and young children
  • people with mobility problems
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • people who are physically active, for example labourers or those doing sports

Arginine Vasopressin Deficiency- AVPD (Diabetes insipidus)

People can lose more water through sweating than they may think; this can be a problem for people with AVP-D (DI). You should always obey your thirst and drink if you are thirsty.

If you take Desmopressin (DDAVP) you may not sense thirst very well/ have no thirst mechanism. It is important for you or those that support you to monitor your fluid balance (water intake / urine output). Due to increased sweating you will be losing more fluid (salt and water) through your skin than usual when it is very hot. You should avoid prolonged exposure to the midday sun (between 11am and 3pm) when it is at its strongest, and avoid extreme exercise / intense physical labour when it is hot.

Children in this situation are probably particularly vulnerable, and parents should consult their paediatric endocrine team if they are concerned about their child (or paediatric A&E if out-of-hours).

Adrenal Insufficiency

If you have adrenal insufficiency, then you should follow our sick day rules guidance as usual. If you feel unwell, with a fever or infection, double your usual dose for the duration of your fever and see your GP if you are still unwell after 48 hours.

If you vomit more than once, and cannot keep an extra 10mg -20mg of tablets down, an emergency injection of 100mg hydrocortisone is needed. Phone your GP (if unwell in practice hours) or go to A&E. This also applies to severe diarrhoea or illness.

Medication storage

Medicines that must be stored in a fridge may deteriorate in a heatwave if the fridge does not keep the medication cool enough. Most fridge-storage medicines need to be kept between 2-8°C, so the temperature control in your fridge may need to be adjusted during a heatwave to meet this requirement.

For medicines that are not normally stored in a fridge, manufacturers generally guarantee that they remain stable if stored below 25 degrees Celsius. In a heatwave, ambient temperatures may rise above this. To protect these medicines, store them somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight (but not in the fridge). Avoid places that get very hot – such as in cars, or on sunny windowsills etc. It is important to store them out of the sight and reach of children.

Tips for coping in hot weather

The following advice applies to everybody when it comes to keeping cool and comfortable, and reducing health risks:

  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open windows for ventilation when it is cooler outside.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing and a hat if you go outdoors.

How do I know if I, or someone I care for, needs help?

If you or someone you care for, feels unwell, find somewhere cool (out of the sun) to rest. Give them plenty of fluids to drink.

If symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse or don’t go away, seek urgent medical help. 

With this guidance and tips, we hope that you find time to enjoy the sunnier, warmer weather. Don’t forget our nurse helpline is available to ask any medical questions that you might have.