I keep a pretty well stocked medicine cabinet, including a large variety of vitamins. The average person doesn’t need to be that prepared but it’s important to keep a basic, well organized medicine cabinet/drawer/area etc. I’ve put together a list of a few steps which can easily change your day, if not your life.
- Prescription Medications: Whenever you are prescribed a medication you should ask your doctor about side effects and interactions. Instead of just ignoring him/her if they don’t mention something you currently take or experience, write down the common ones. You never know when this can come in handy. Additionally you can use http://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.html to check for potential interactions.
- Prescription Medications (Step 2): Separate all of your or your family member’s daily prescription medications. Get a small notepad or a piece of paper you can tape into the cabinet and write down the name of the medication, the normal dosage and its interactions. This way not only will it remind you to follow the directions and make refills easier, but it can be important to have basic information on hand during an emergency.
- OTC Pain Relievers : Basic otc medications are highly under-rated. The most useful are pain relievers (analgesic). Pain can quickly ruin your day or week. Pain is a symptom but it’s reduction can often hasten recovery. Pain relievers are cheap, easy to find and often serve dual purposes. Keep a small amount of a variety of pain killers. Many people are allergic to at least one, they serve different purposes and some are not appropriate for those with a variety of conditions. This will also help you avoid interactions. Aleve, Advil, Tylenol and Excedrine are not the same medication. They are brand names for other individual medications or combination of medications. You should at least have ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and ideally one more such as Advil (acetylsalicylic acid) or Excedrin (combination of acetaminophen, asprin and caffeine).
- Never underestimate the power of cold or heat: Heating pads, ice packs and icy hot pads/ointment may seem unnecessary but you’ll disagree when you wake up unable to move or come back from a run with a swollen ankle. You can always use frozen vegetables etc if you don’t have an ice pack. Just remember ice is for inflammation (i.e. swelling or headaches) and heat is for sore muscles.
- Benadryl: Most people have a vague idea of what they’re allergic to but few know the full list. I recently had my blood tested and I’m allergic to 5 different types of grass. But serious allergic reactions can happen anytime and they come on suddenly. A dose of benadryl can turn a dangerous, or just really annoying, moment into something tolerable.
- Multi-vitamins: While their daily effectiveness is debatable, they will not hurt during an especially rough week. If you’re travelling, under excess stress, sick or not sleeping well your body depletes its resources quicker than usual. The boost from a vitamin may help you get through the week, keep you from getting sick, and give you some extra energy.
Here are some additional things I think it’s nice to have on hand but are not absolutely necessary.
- Coffee or tea (caffeine has tons of medicinal benefits which I will discuss in another post)
- Candy (for those with low blood sugar or as a pick me up)
- Ginger ale and saltine crackers (for upset stomachs)
- B-vitamins (for energy)
- Sleepy-time tea, chamomile tea, etc (to help you relax and get to sleep)