When someone in your household gets a minor illness or injury, having the right essentials handy can get them the relief they need quickly. Doing an annual check for anything that is running low or about to expire will ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet and are prepared to safely address any issues that might pop up. Here are some of the basics you should have on hand:
Pain relievers and fever reducers. These can include acetaminophen, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, and aspirin. Talk to your doctor about which type is best for you or your children depending on the ailment. For example, children under 12 should not be given aspirin. Make sure to carefully read the labels before purchasing any medication to make sure it is the right fit for you or your family members.
A thermometer to measure temperatures and check for fevers. If you have young babies in your family, your pediatrician may prefer you use a rectal thermometer for a more accurate reading.
Antacids to relieve mild indigestion or heartburn
Anti-diarrheal medication in case of upset stomach due to food poisoning, illness or other causes
Bandages to cover and protect minor cuts, scrapes and other minor injuries. Have a few different types and sizes available – a paper cut and a scraped knee have different requirements.
Antibiotic ointment to treat cuts and burns
Hydrogen peroxide and cotton balls are also helpful to clean out those cuts and scrapes before applying ointment and bandages.
Antihistamines and eye drops to address allergies. If you are prone to poison ivy, bug bites, etc., it is also good to keep calamine lotion and cortisone cream on hand.
Decongestants, cough suppressant and cough drops. These are especially helpful during cold and flu season, but make sure to read the directions carefully. For example, do not combine multiple medications containing acetaminophen at once (many combination cold medications already have this included).
Heat and ice packs for aches, pains and strains
Tweezers to remove splinters, ticks and other similar objects
Most of these items are eligible to be paid from your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). You can either purchase them in a pharmacy using the card associated with your account or check if your FSA/HSA provider has a special online store.
Of important note, make sure all medicines are in a secure location out of reach of young children, and check with your child’s pediatrician before administering any over-the-counter medications.