Restocking Your Medicine Cabinet - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/13/04

Restocking Your Medicine Cabinet

Following the latest recommendations, toss out those bottles of syrup of Ipecac and replace them with activated charcoal for accidental poisonings.

Organize your medicine cabinet according to needs and you will be able to find things quickly and to know when you are getting low on an item.

Coughs and colds:

  • There are now zinc products on the market that show some evidence of limiting the length and intensity of a cold. They are worth trying at the first sign of a cold. Side effects can include stomach problems. The herb, echinacea, was not effective in preventing colds among children in one study.
  • In general, use remedies for one problem at a time. That way, you do not load up on ingredients that you do not want or need. For the stuffy nose from a cold, buy products that contain pseudo-ephedrine. This can make you feel jittery and should not be used if you have high blood pressure. Nasal sprays are effective in clearing out that blocked nasal passage but must be used strictly according to directions. Saline nasal sprays may also be useful.
  • If that stuffy nose is caused by an allergy, stock up on a non-drowsy type antihistamine such as Claritin. Benadryl will make you sleepy, but it is great for more severe reactions. The old fashioned steam and Vicks might also do the trick.
  • If you also have a headache, your best bets are ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Advil or Tylenol). The generic substitutes for all these cold products are just fine.
  • Cough products range from lozenges to syrups. Your pharmacist is the best guide here. For prolonged, severe coughs, check with your doctor. A prescription product containing codeine might be necessary to control it.

For women's monthly problems and PMS, anti-inflammatory drugs help. If water retention is also a problem, take one of the combined pills that contain a diuretic such as Midol PMS.

Pain control items include aspirin, acetaminophen or Tylenol, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The most common of these are Motrin and Advil. The NSAIDS and aspirin also control fever.

For the occasional gastro-intestinal problems, there is now an amazing array of helpful products including fiber and stool softeners for constipation, anti-diarrheal medicine, and anti-gas tablets. For upset stomachs, a simple antacid such as Tums, Maalox, or Gaviscon will help. For acid reflux, one of the acid inhibitors is useful. Check with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time.

And remember, this year you may not have to toss out those medicines on the so-called expiration date. With the exception of some liquid antibiotics, insulin, and nitroglycerin, most medicines last for several years.

First aid items in your medicine cabinet should include:

  • Antibiotic cream for cuts and scrapes.
  • Special burn and blister bandages.
  • Creams or sprays containing hydrocortisone or antihistamines for bug bites.
  • Sterile gauze and surgical Ipecac.
  • Band aids
  • Reusable hot and cold packs.
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