What you should include in your medicine cabinetObviously, what you should include in your medicine cabinet depends on your needs, but here is a list to get you started. Oh, and I am not a doctor. Obviously. Read the labels. Use common sense.
- Pain relievers/fever reducers. Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen are popular items. Aspirin can't be used for children, and ibuprofen shouldn't be used for babies under six months old. My husband only has one kidney and, because of that, can't take ibuprofen. So your family could be like mine. To cover Mr. One-Kidney, a four-month-old, a seven-year-old, and an 11-year-old, we have a motley selection of all three. A digital thermometer is a must-have tool, too.
- Decongestants. Congestion is my least favorite part of a cold. If I'm feeling well enough, I bust out my best Elvis: I'm all stuffed up, uh huh, yeah, yeah. I'm all stuffed up. Decongestants work by constricting blood vessels inside the nose and decreasing swelling. Because of the risk to my husband's remaining kidney, he has to avoid decongestants. A natural option? He uses a Neti pot (it looks like a genie's lamp) with filtered salt water. He thinks it helps for a day, so you could try that too.
- Cough medicine. There is some discussion about whether cough medicines are effective; but if they work for you, use it. Instead, our weapon of choice is Vick's VapoRub, rubbed on the chest and bottom of feet, before putting socks on. I don't know why the feet thing works, but humor us. We also run a humidifier. It seems to help our kids; but like money, you need to do what works for you.
- Antihistamines. While there are both prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications, Benadryl is an antihistamine that can be used as a sleep aid, if needed. If you get itchy eyes associated with your allergies, eye drops may also be useful.
- Infection control. For minor scrapes, infections, etc, you need to stock up with some of the following: gauze, Band-aids, medical tapes, antibiotic ointment, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers (for splinters), etc. At my house, even the boring Band-aids are a hot commodity. The box gets raided frequently, so sometimes I consider locking them up. But maybe it's a small price to pay. Here's a tip: one of my kids stepped on a nail this summer. I cleaned up the small, minor wound, covered it with gauze, and then used some medical tape. I told him to keep it clean. Ten-year-old boys in the summer don't understand how to keep anything clean, and I was genuinely concerned that it was going to get infected. One of my friends told me the genius idea of wrapping his gauzed-up food with electrical tape. It worked so well that electrical tape is now my tape of choice.
- Antacids. Tums and Maalox are handy to have on hand after a big Thanksgiving dinner puts too much pressure on your stomach.