Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Filling the medicine cabinet for summertime

Summer is nearly here, and we all need to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.   Summertime sports and activities can sometimes result in minor health problems and injuries.  Be prepared by keeping your medicine cabinet well-stocked. Essential items should include:

•  Bandages: for scrapes, cuts, burns or sprains you should have a supply of band-aids, gauze, stretch bandages and first aid tape.
•  Topical antibiotic: Wounds should be cleaned as soon as possible to prevent infection. I suggest cleansing with soap and water first, rinsing well with water, and then apply antiseptic ointment like Bacitracin and a band-aid.
•  Aspirin: For pain, inflammation and fever relief.  Don’t forget that chewing an aspirin at the start of a possible heart attack can save a life.
•  Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Unlike aspirin, Tylenol is absorbed through the liver and as such can be taken on an empty stomach.  Relieves pain fast.
•  Thermometer:  A fever should be monitored closely.  Should a temperature rise above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, a doctor should be consulted.
•  Antacid: To relieve upset stomachs.
•  Anti-diarrhea medicine:  Diarrhea can be potentially dangerous.  Consult a doctor should this condition last for more than two days.
•  Sunscreen: Preferably a cream with SPF 30 or higher.  Sunscreen will protect the skin and prevent sun burn.  Re-apply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
•  Hydrocortisone cream:  Brings relief to itchy skin due to insect bites or poison ivy.  Also brings pain relief after sunburn.
•  Calamine lotion: For rashes, poison ivy or poison oak.
•  Cold/ice packs are good to have handy.  I always made homemade ice packs by filling a surgical glove with ice chips and tying the wrist in a knot.  Ice brings relief to sore muscles.  Apply to sore area for twenty minutes, take off for twenty, then repeat.  Apply directly on the skin for sunburn or first degree burns.
•  Tweezers: to remove splinters and ticks.
•  Scissors:  to cut bandages.

Keep a printed list of emergency numbers on the inside of your medicine cabinet.  On this list, include the number of your doctor, your veterinarian and the poison control center.  Print this list in a large font so that anyone can read it without having to look for glasses first.

With a well-stocked medicine cabinet, you will be prepared for everything an active summer has in store.

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.healthydocs.blogspot.com or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org.

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