A well-stocked medicine cabinet is essential for every household to treat a minor illness or injury, such as headache, runny nose, aches and pains, and insect bites. These items can help ensure a healthy and safe life.
Here are some suggestions of common medicines and first aid supplies that you should have on hand in case of emergencies when you cannot get to a pharmacy.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen, or Aspirin
- They work as a pain reliever for adults and help decrease swelling and pain caused by inflammation.
- Ibuprofen can be used to relieve pain due to various conditions, such as headache, dental pain, period pain, muscle aches, or arthritis.
- According to the American Heart Association (AHA), crushed Aspirin helps during a heart attack.
- Decongestants or cough suppressants
- These are available in several forms (syrups, pills) that contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.
- Cough expectorants (works by loosening mucus) and suppressants (works by controlling or reducing cough) are necessary for quick relief from incessant colds, flu, and cough.
- Decongestants help clear a runny nose and relieve postnasal drip.
- Avoid using opioid-based cough suppressants.
- Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (sedating) and loratadine (nonsedating), help tackle runny noses, hives, itching, and allergic reactions caused by a wide range of causes, such as hay fever, hives, conjunctivitis, and allergic reactions to insect bites or stings.
- Try to stock both oral antihistamines (liquid or pill) and hydrocortisone cream (a mild steroid) for topical application to treat rashes, swelling, itching, and irritation due to conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, prickly heat rash, insect bites, and stings.
- Antacids, laxatives, antidiarrheal, oral rehydration solution (ORS)
- Antacids containing sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate, aluminum, or magnesium hydroxide help relieve indigestion problems, such as heartburn, belching, and stomach upset or hyperacidity.
- Laxatives or stool softeners, such as milk of magnesia, can soothe stomach cramps caused by constipation.
- Antidiarrheal medicines, such as loperamide are used to stop frequent and liquid bowel movements due to infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites, side effects of medicines (such as antibiotics), and digestive disorders (such as coeliac disease) or irritable bowel syndrome.
- ORS solution restores the hydration and electrolyte balance in the body and replaces fluids lost due to vomiting or diarrhea.
- Antibiotic or antiseptic ointments and bandages
- Eye drops
10 additional medical items you should keep at home
- Thermometer for an accurate temperature reading
- Heat and ice packs to provide relief from headaches, sprains, injuries, and sore muscles
- First aid kits
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
- Nasal sprays
- Ear drops
- Medicines for motion sickness
- Sterile dressings or medical tapes
- Skincare products, such as moisturizers and sunscreens
7 tips for using over-the-counter medicines
- Always read and follow the printed directions and warnings on the packet label.
- Look at the list of ingredients or contents mentioned and choose products that suit you the best and you are not allergic to.
- Check the expiration date before using any product or medicines.
- Store medicines in a cool, dry area.
- Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should talk to their providers before taking any new medicines.
- Older adults and children are affected by medicines differently; take special care about dosages when giving over-the-counter medicines to them.
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Medline Plus. Over-the-counter medicines. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002208.htm
Moser R. Stocking Your Home Pharmacy. WebMD. https://blogs.webmd.com/from-our-archives/20101115/stocking-your-home-pharmacy-the-ten-items-everyone-needs-to-have
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