Most households already know the importance of having a first-aid kit or at least a designated area for storing medicines and medical equipment. However, it’s just as important to keep the family’s first-aid kit well-stocked for emergency situations. Aside from items like band-aids and safety pins, a good first-aid kit must have medicines for alleviating the symptoms of common ailments.
Must-have medications include prescription medicines, which address specific conditions that family members may have, and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines which provide general relief for aches and pains.
These first-aid medicines can either be a temporary form of treatment or your only source of relief, so they should never be overlooked when putting together the family’s life-saving health kit. These OTC medicines are sold in most drugstores, so it’s generally easy to find and buy online medicine for short-term relief.
To help you decide on your purchases, here are some of the essential medicines that must be present in every household’s first-aid kit.
From migraines to menstrual cramps, pain relievers can manage many possible ailments. Pain relievers work by preventing your damaged or injured cells from releasing prostaglandin, a chemical that signals pain to your brain. Common pain relievers include aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
These types of medicines can also be used to reduce fevers. Aspirin and ibuprofen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which relieve symptoms associated with pain and discomfort while down with a fever, cold, or flu. These symptoms include headache, chills, body aches, and sore throat.
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are quite common, so it would be wise to have stomach medicines in case a family member experiences indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, or an upset stomach. Antacids are typically used to treat heartburn, but it’s best to check with your doctor first since there several types of OTC antacids for treating the ailment.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can also treat persistent stomach issues, including ulcers and excessive stomach acid. Essentially, PPIs make your stomach less acidic by blocking the pumps within your cells that secrete acid. Your doctor may recommend PPIs if you suffer from gastritis, peptic ulcers, and other issues in your GI tract. Other medicines for stomach problems include histamine2 blockers (H2 blockers) and promotility agents.
Generally, you should take antidiarrheal medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Diarrhea usually goes away on its own after a couple of days, so you wouldn’t need medication to treat it in most cases. Still, it would help to have medicines like loperamide around. In case of constipation, you can take laxatives like bisacodyl, sennosides, or sodium picosulfate.
Antihistamines are vital drugs for combating the symptoms of an allergic reaction. When your body detects infections or anything foreign and harmful, it releases histamine which causes your skin to swell and your blood vessels to widen.
Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine can help with mild allergy symptoms, but they also make you feel drowsy since they block histamine’s effects on wakefulness. However, there are antihistamines that don’t have sleep-inducing effects. These include cetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine. Some antihistamines can also be used to treat motion sickness and dizziness, but it’s best to consult your doctor before taking them, especially if you need to drive.
Cough and Cold Medicines
Coughs and colds are not usually a cause for concern, especially if you follow best practices such as getting lots of rest, eating healthy foods, washing your hands, and avoiding close contact with others. Still, you can incorporate these medicines into your kit to relieve discomfort caused by these ailments. These medications include decongestants, cough suppressants, and saline nasal sprays. Decongestants, in particular, can help with allergic rhinitis since they constrict the blood vessels found in your nose. Once the swollen tissue shrinks, air can pass through your nasal canal more freely.
Antibiotic Ointments and Creams
Even if you think it’s just a scratch, a minor cut can still open the door to potentially harmful infections. Triple antibiotic ointments (TAO) like bacitracin, neomycin, and polymixin B prevent infections by slowing down or totally stopping bacteria growth. They also activate the natural substances in your skin to reduce itchiness, redness, and swelling. TAOs are best applied after cleaning shallow cuts or wounds, and are less effective for serious injuries like animal bites and wounds that require stitches.
Another type of ointment is steroid creams, which are used to manage inflammation due to skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Hydrocortisone creams, which are used to relieve itchiness due to insect bites, fall under the category of steroid creams.
Have the Essentials in Hand, But Use Them Wisely
With all these in mind, it’s also important to remember that your first-aid medicines must be properly stored, handled, and used. For one, medicines must be kept out of reach of children and stored in a cool, dry area. It’s also crucial to check the expiration dates of your medicines at home and dispose of them once they have surpassed their shelf life. And lastly, it would be ideal to talk with your doctor before taking these medicines, especially if you have a pre-existing condition or need to take other prescribed medicines regularly.
Major and minor health emergencies can happen anytime, so it’s best to have the essentials ready to quickly resolve issues and move past those disruptive sick days.
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