What Goes in a Medicine Cabinet? - dummies

What Goes in a Medicine Cabinet?

By Pierre Lehu

A well-stocked medicine cabinet is essential for anyone living on their own. Your medicine cabinet or first-aid kit should always contain some basic pharmaceutical supplies, even if you happen to have a 24-hour drug store right up the block. And for those not so fortunate, the list should be a bit more extensive because for some reason, the middle of the night seems an especially popular time for medical emergencies.

  • Cuts: If you’re bleeding you need two things: something to stop the bleeding and something to disinfect the cut. A box of bandages in assorted sizes should take care of most cuts and scrapes while an antiseptic, such as hydrogen peroxide or an antibacterial cream will allow you to disinfect the area. Have some cotton pads on hand for applying liquid disinfectants.

    If you take part in a lot of active sports, or are just clumsy, some larger bandages along with some medical tape will help you out when a larger surface than a finger needs tending to.

  • Fever, swelling, headaches: Aspirin and other pain relievers like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) are well known for making a headache bearable, but they can also help with pain in other parts of your body as well as to reduce fever and swelling. Don’t guess if you have a fever but consult that thermometer you bought for just that purpose.

    If you know you’re going to be sore from some activity, take the pain reliever before you start. And when taking Ibuprofen, always have some food with it.

  • Colds and coughs: If a cold or cough is keeping you up, you’ll be glad you have some cold medicine on hand. If you’re stuffed up, you’ll want something that contains a decongestant. Cough medicine controls the urge to cough while a cough drop will stop that annoying tickle. For sore throats, you’ll want a lozenge that’s made to calm down the pain.

  • Allergies: Allergies can take many forms, from causing you to blow and sneeze to making your eyes water or your skin break out. An antihistamine (such as Benadryl) can handle all those symptoms. For itchy eyes you may also need eye drops, and it’s a good idea to have an eye cup on hand in case you get something in your eye that needs to be washed out.

  • Stomachaches and other digestive ailments: Too much stomach acid can be very painful, but if you have some antacid on hand, in chewable tablets or liquid form, you can stop the burning in its tracks. If you’re feeling nauseous, a product like Pepto-Bismol can relieve the problem, though if you can’t stop throwing up, go to an emergency room. If diarrhea is your problem, Imodium or Kaopectate can help. If the condition continues, you could become severely dehydrated, and again a trip to the emergency room is indicated.

  • Nail problems: A broken nail or hang nail won’t kill you but they can be so annoying. Having a nail clipper and nail file on hand can bring you instant relief and is so much more effective than your teeth.

  • Tooth problems: Also under the annoying label is when some food gets stuck between your teeth. Even if you don’t listen to your dentist and floss daily, having some dental floss on hand will save your tongue from a lot of needless prodding. And while a toothache will eventually have to be taken care of by a dentist, a product that numbs the area, like Ambesol, will provide temporary relief to get you through the night.

Many pharmaceutical products have a limited shelf life so at least once a year go over your supply, throw out anything that has expired and buy a replacement.