Experts recommend that we should clear out our medicine cabinets once a year to get rid of items that are out of date, or have lost their labels. Without an annual spring clean, you could and up taking potentially harmful medication. Ingredients in out-of-date medicines break down and can become inactive or even toxic, giving you an upset stomach.
Medicine cabinet must-have
Painkillers – Paracetamol or ibuprofen are best for a mild fever and aches and pains, such as toothache, headache or period pain. But it’s not suitable for everyone – if you have asthma, or a history of high blood pressure or stomach ulcers, for example, you shouldn’t take it. It can also irritate the stomach, so it must be taken with plenty of fluids and food.
Paracetamol is safer for use by everyone and can be taken on an empty stomach. be careful not to exceed the recommended dose.
Cold and flu remedies – An all-in-one cold-and-flu treatment, such as Lempsip is a good idea. It helps ease aching joints, headaches, a cough and blocked nose, without taking separate medication for each ailment. This reduces the risk of taking too many paracetamol-based products at once. Throat lozenges with an antibacterial agent and a mild antiseptic will help kill off infection and relieve pain.
A mentholated rub can help clear the nose and chest.
For coughs, an expectorant remedy is the best all-round standby, as it helps loosen and remove phlegm, and is soothing. If you need to stay alert, choose a non-drowsy formula.
Allergy treatment – Antihistamine tablets (or liquid for children) work by suppressing histamine, a chemical released during an allergic reaction. But they also have a sedating effect. So be aware of this when you’re taking them.
Skin/rash treatment – A tube of antihistamine cream will treat itching and skin rashes (such as heat rash). A tub of emollient cream is a good moisturizer for dry skin. If you have a specific rash or skin condition, ask your pharmacist about the best sort of cream to use.
Diarrhoea treatment – The best advice for an upset stomach is simply to let the infection run its course and drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. But with virulent viruses, such as last winter’s norovirus, you may want some extra help to avoid dehydration. Rehydration sachets replace fluids and salts lost from the body and Imodium slows the action of the gut, allowing more time for the water and salts to be re-absorbed.
Thermometer – Digital thermometers are quick, accurate and easy to use. You can get them for use in your ear, underarm or mouth. A forehead-strip thermometer is a cheaper option. It will give more of a temperature guide than a precise reading, but that’s often enough if you just need to confirm that your temperature is raised.
Basic First-Aid Kit
Plasters – in a range of shapes and sizes
Antiseptic wipes – for swift wound-cleaning
Antiseptic cream – for cuts and grazes
Melolin dressing – for large grazes or burns. The shiny surface keeps the wound free from material and avoids possible infection
Microporous surgical tape – to hold Melolin dressing in place
Tweezers – to remove splinters