Last-Minute Festive Pharmacy
Busy buying up last-minute presents and food? Don’t forget to make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with everything you might need to help you get through the excesses of food, family or frenzied over-indulgence. Here’s a few reminders:
Regular medications : make sure you have enough of these to get you through the holiday
Painkillers : Keep a range of pain killers for both adults and children. Different ones work in different ways and suit different people and different pains. Be careful if you are taking cold-remedies too as these can contain paracetamol or ibuprofen – make sure not to exceed the recommended dose.
- Simple remedies such as cold or hot packs or creams such as Deep Heat or Deep Freeze, or herbal/complementary remedies that you prefer
- Ibuprofen (as an anti-inflammatory this may be better for soft tissue injuries like torn muscles)
- Aspirin (not for children because of the potential for a rare but serious complication called Reye’s syndrome)
- Codeine combinations
Indigestion medicines: Simple antacids, especially those which contain a treatment based on alginates, which form a foamy raft that lines the stomach to protect it from acid, are essential for the misery of indigestion resulting from an excess of rich food. You might also want to consider drug treatments such as ranitidine or pantoprozole which reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach. These can be very effective in severe heartburn and indigestion. You can buy short courses of these drugs from the pharmacy to cover the Christmas period without a prescription, but if your symptoms persist for more than a few days you should check things out with your doctor.
Decongestants, especially nasal drops or sprays, and herbal oils for inhalation. I like the small vaporising devices you can get for children’s rooms because I think they are safe and effective but skin rubs are much cheaper.
Cough medicines : whichever type suits you (I am not a great believer in the power of cough medicines, but most people like to have one to hand).
Treatments for sore throats : Simple boiled sweets, which help to keep saliva flowing over a sore throat, may be all that is need but some people find lozenges or throat sprays which containing antiseptics or local anaesthetics to be very helpful.
Antihistamines. Sedative ones, e.g. Promethazine or Chlorpheniramine, may be useful for treating itchy conditions, stings, etc and can have useful sedative effects in small children. Newer versions are less likely to sedate.
Anti-diarrhoea medicines : Loperamide helps to slow the bowel down and reduce diarrhoea in gastroenteritis and other stomach upsets (Noro virus or “winter vomiting” is rife at the moment). Keep a stock of Rehydration solutions too, for children with gastroenteritis.
For women : citrate treatments for cystitis (these usually consist of powders which are mixed up as a drink to reduce the acidity of the urine and so reduce irritation) and creams, pessaries or tablet treatments for vaginal thrush.
An antiseptic cream or lotion for simple cuts and grazes
A simple first aid kit: You can buy ready-made ones, but its much cheaper to put your own together. Good items include :
- Two cotton bandages and 2 crepe bandages of different widths
- Wound dressings and a pack of gauze swabs
- A variety of plasters including some for children
- An ice pack
- A thermometer
- Safety pins
- Surgical tape
- An eye patch
- A large triangular bandage (which can be used to make a sling)
- An eye bath and eye wash
Follow the rules : Finally remember some basic rules :
- always finish prescribed courses of medicine, or dispose of any left-overs safely (take them to the local pharmacist if you are worried).
- Never take medicine prescribed for someone else
- Make sure your cabinet and its contents are safe especially from small children (place it high up, lock the doors, ensure proper childproof caps are used etc)
- If you don’t know what something is for, get rid of it.
- Don’t keep medicines past their use-by date. It’s unlikely that they will “go off“ or be harmful but they may lose any therapeutic effect.
And don’t forget – the worst hangovers improve with hydration and rest. Alcohol is dehydrating so drink plenty of plain fluid and try to squeeze in a nap when you can.