It’s a good idea to keep your medicine cabinet well stocked when you consider all of the scrapes, bruises, fevers, sore throats and colds your family may get. To help you stock up appropriately, Crystal Tuncay, D.O., of Cumberland Internal Medicine shares a basic list of items you should have on hand to respond quickly when illness or accidents occur.
1. Pain Relief
There are two basic types of over-the-counter pain medications – acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (i.e. ibuprofen and naproxen). “Both types can effectively reduce pain and fever, but the NSAIDs can also reduce inflammation. Some people find acetaminophen easier on the stomach,” said Dr. Tuncay.
2. Wound Care
“Always start by gently washing a wound with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection,” said Dr. Tuncay. She recommends stocking your medicine cabinet with adhesive bandages, adhesive tape and clean gauze. “When in doubt, see your doctor and make sure you’re current on your tetanus vaccination.”
For relief of heartburn, consider stocking simple antacids, which contain calcium, aluminum or magnesium for immediate, but short-term relief from heartburn. Other remedies could include histamine 2 blockers, which reduce the production of stomach acid or proton pump inhibitors, blocking the production of stomach acid, but these require at least 24 hours to be eective, according to Tuncay. “Be sure to see a doctor for ongoing problems with heartburn, which could indicate a more serious condition, such as GERD (see page 16) or even heart problems,” advised Dr. Tuncay. Understand that certain antacids can cause problems with absorptions of other medications and patients with certain medical conditions should avoid these medicines. Always consult your doctor if you have any questions.
4. Cough/Cold Products
“Relief from colds can come from cough suppressants that may help suppress annoying coughs. Look for formulas with expectorants and guaifenesin, which help loosen mucus,” advised Dr. Tuncay. Decongestants can also provide relief from colds by shrinking swollen nasal passages and making breathing easier. Brands that contain pseudoephedrine require that you sign a registry at the pharmacy counter to reduce the risk of abuse. Brands that contain phenylephrine are available over the counter. Cough and cold products may be taken along with pain relievers however, be aware that many combination cold products have pain relievers in them so avoid inadverdent overdosing on the pain medication. Also caution not to take these medications if you have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure. When in doubt, ask your primary care physician.