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 Porter’s Cumberland Internal Medicine shares a basic list of what you should have on hand to respond quickly when illness or accidents happen.
1. Pain Relief
There are two basic types of over the counter pain medications – acetaminophen (like Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like 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, clean gauze. “When in doubt, see your doctor and make sure you’re current on your tetanus vaccination.”
3. Cough/Cold products
“Relief from colds can come from cough suppressants that may help suppress annoying coughs. Look for formulas with expectorants, 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 and 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. Be aware though to not take these medications if you have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure. When in doubt, ask your primary care physician.
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 effective, according to Dr. Tuncay. “Be sure to see a doctor for ongoing problems with heartburn, which could indicate a more serious condition, such as GERD or even heart problems,” advised Dr. Tuncay. Be advised that certain antacids can cause problems with absorptions of other medications and patients with certain medical problems should avoid these medicines. Always consult your doctor if you have any questions.
Those itchy eyes and that stuffy nose happen when you come into contact with things like pollen, pet dander or dust mites, which trigger histamines in your body and lead to swollen tissues. Antihistamines work to block histamines, relieving allergy symptoms. “Make sure you read the labels when you purchase antihistamines as sometimes they include extra ingredients like pain relievers or decongestants, so you don’t want to double up on those ingredients. Also be aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness,” said Dr. Tuncay.
6. Antifungal medications
Antifungal creams and powders can treat athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm. “Fungal infections of the fingernails and toenails are more difficult to treat and typically require prescription-strength medications,” said Dr. Tuncay.
“A good medicine cabinet also includes some basic tools, such as a thermometer, a measuring spoon for dosing medicines, tweezers, alcohol wipes and disinfectant for cleansing wounds,” said Dr. Tuncay.
The last word
“Go through your medicine cabinet and first aid kit each year, discarding outdated medications,” said Dr. Tuncay, who recommends setting a date – like the first day of summer – to replenish and recheck medicines each year. “Keep everything in its original package and make sure it’s out of reach of children.”
- Dr. Tuncay is a member of the medical staff at Porter Regional Hospital and a member of the Porter Physician Group. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tuncay at Cumberland Internal Medicine, call 219-548-3843.