Are you constantly organizing and cleaning your kitchen, bathrooms, and other rooms in the house? That's how you keep mail from piling up, clutter from accumulating, and food from spoiling in the refrigerator. But when was the last time you sorted through the supplies in your medicine cabinet? If you’re like most people, you don’t think about your medicine cabinets, first aid kits, or random collection of healthcare items until you actually need something. Make sure you are fully stocked with everything you need before heading into cold and flu season. You don't want to have to make a midnight run to the drug store when you need something in a hurry! Follow these tips to make sure your cabinet is free from old or expired products, and up-to-date with all of the essential items you might need:
- Medications. Keep prescriptions and over the counter medication in a secure, dry location. Avoid areas like the bathroom since it’s often damp and has inconsistent temperatures which can impact medications. Make a list of any expired medications so you can replace them immediately, and get rid of any medication you no longer need. (See below) Allergy, cold and flu medications, cough syrup, throat lozenges and pain relievers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin) are all important to have on hand, in addition to any prescriptions you may need.
- First Aid. Designate a central, easily-accessible spot in the house (whether a medicine cabinet, large drawer, or sturdy plastic container with a lid) for recommended items including:
- Eye drops
- Activated charcoal tablets
- Antibiotic ointments
- Cortisone cream
- Adhesive bandages
- Cotton swabs
- Gauze and medical tape
- Alcohol wipes
- Supplements. Vitamins and supplements can be important for keeping you healthy. Depending on your health and doctor's recommendation you may want to add more, but at a minimum you should consider keeping a probiotic, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D in stock, especially during cold and flu season. And if you have trouble sleeping, add in a natural supplement such as melatonin or valerian.
- Medical devices. Monitoring our health from home is easier with the variety of easy-to-use devices now available. Everybody should have a blood pressure monitor on hand, and if you're at risk for diabetes, a blood glucose monitor is a must. Keep a supply of batteries and test strips on hand. If dry air aggravates your nose and throat, invest in a humidifier. And if you use a CPAP machine, make sure you have a battery back-up pack to keep it running if the power goes out.
If you have some of these items, that's great! But did you know that medications (and even bandages) can expire? Over time, bandages can lose their elasticity and become contaminated. Go through your supplies and toss out any expired or unusable items. If you have prescription medication that needs to be thrown out, make sure to do it properly. Most local pharmacies and drug stores offer safe and free medication disposal.
COVID-19 changed the way we handle sickness at work and at school, and we now know how important it is to keep a good supply of essential items on hand. Take time to prepare now, and keep your medicine cabinet stocked and up to date.
This article first appeared in the October 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.