Flu Season: Stock Your Medicine Cabinet

Flu Season Stock Your Medicine Cabinet

Keeping the right supplies on hand can help you quickly treat flu symptoms.

The last thing you want to do when you’re feeling sick is run to the store for medicine. That’s why it’s important to check your medicine supply now to make sure it’s well stocked so you can treat symptoms if needed.

Start by checking expiration dates on the bottles and boxes. Set aside outdated products, but don’t throw them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Instead, ask your local pharmacist how to best dispose of them.

Next, take an inventory of the medicines that are left. You may want to replenish your supplies or get additional products to make sure you’re prepared.

What to have on hand

Some over-the-counter medicines can help you feel better when you feel ill. First talk to your doctor about which ones are right for you. People with some health conditions should avoid certain drugs. These health conditions include high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, ulcers, glaucoma and many other conditions or drug allergies. Also, it is important to tell your doctor about all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that you are taking so you can avoid dangerous drug interactions.

Some common over-the-counter medications include:

  • Painkiller/fever reducer. Ask your doctor which type and dosage is best for you. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are two common types. Aspirin should never be used in anyone 19 years of age or younger because it can lead to a very serious condition known as Reyes syndrome.
  • Cough suppressant. Useful for a dry, annoying cough.
  • Expectorant. To loosen mucous and make coughs more productive.
  • Decongestant. These medicines help treat a stuffy nose.
  • Anti-diarrhea medication. Your doctor may suggest this for mild cases of diarrhea.

Always read and follow the directions on the labels carefully.

Children younger than 4 years of age should not be given over-the-counter cold medications. Talk to your doctor before using over-the-counter cold medicines in any child.

When it comes to finding a place to keep medicines, the best storage spot is actually not in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom. The temperature and humidity there can cause drugs to break down quickly. Instead, keep them in a cool, dark, dry place out of a child’s reach, like a locked box on a high shelf of a linen closet.

Other essential supplies

These items aren’t medicinal, but they can also go a long way toward making you feel better.

  • Thermometer with disposable covers. Look for one with an easy-to-read digital display.
  • Tea bags and honey. A cup of tea with a little honey can sooth a sore throat.
  • Tissues. Splurge on the ones that contain lotion to prevent soreness.
  • Petroleum jelly. This soothes chapped skin around the lips and nose.
  • Hand sanitizing gel. You can keep your hands clean even if you’re too achy and tired to get out of bed.
  • Clean washcloths. Dampen them with tepid water to make a soothing compress for your forehead.
  • Cool mist humidifier. This helps a child’s cold symptoms.
  • Suction bulb. This helps clear out nasal mucous in babies.
  • Canned chicken broth and sports drinks. These keep you hydrated.
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