Have you checked your medicine cabinet lately for items that will help you when you are sick with a cold? 

I looked in my cabinet only to find that I am missing several vital things such as a magnifying glass, an emergency contact sheet, latex gloves and an eyeglass kit. I never thought about putting a list of emergency numbers in the cabinet so that I am not running around trying to find the poison control number or doctor's number at the last minute. As I don't have much room, I think I will type a list then put it in a ziplock bag so that it doesn't get wet then tape it inside my cabinet door.

Before I start to compare my list of items that I should have to my cabinet, I need to check the expiration date of all the medicines I own. This way I won't ingest something that is expired. I don't know about you but I have often wondered if it is ok to throw away your expired medicines in the trash.

Good Housekeeping magazine states "You don't want someone to ingest the medications you discard, either accidentally or purposefully. You can follow these guidelines from the FDA to safely dispose of medications." Although Oct. 13, 2013 is past, you can participate in the National Prescription Drugs Take Back Day sponsored every six months by the DEA where the public is encouraged to dispose of prescription drugs responsibly. I definitely will look more into this program. Now let's see what Real Simple magazine suggests should be in our medicine cabinet.

Pain, Headaches and Fever

Bayer aspirin is good for reducing pain and a fever but not everyone can take it so you should have Acetaminophen (which is in Tylenol) on hand. However, you want to read the labels on any other medicines you take so that you aren't taking more than the recommended dosage of acetaminophen. Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are effective painkillers. You may also want to keep these items on hand in a dosage that children can ingest.


When you feel a cold coming on, many people experience a runny nose which turns into congestion. You can breathe out of one side or the other but not both at the same time. If you have Sudafed or Triaminic on hand, this will treat nasal and sinus congestion.


First you need to discern if your cough is dry or contains mucus. If it is dry then Robitussin or Pertussin DM will be of help to you. If you are coughing up mucus then Robitussin PE or Mucinex DM which contains an expectorant to loosen secretions is a must.


For those of you who suffer from allergies whenever the season changes, you will probably be familiar with many different types of antihistamines. Antihistamines help relieve sneezing, itching and a runny nose. You can use Benadryl or Claritin D. You might also want to stock a non-drowsy formula as most cause drowsiness. Napchon-A eye drops which combine an antihistamine and decongestant can also be helpful. These eye drops relieve itchy, red eyes.


You should also carry Tums or Rolaids to neutralize the acid from heartburn. Remember this is only temporary so for more long lasting relief, you should have Mylanta or Maalox on hand. To reduce your stomach from produces too much acid, you also could stock Pepcid, Prilosec or Tagamet. These products are for short term fixes. If you persist in having these symptoms for a long period of time, please go to the doctor so that a better solution can be found for you.

Skin Irritation

Skin problems plague many people. Therefore, it's a good idea to carry Calamine lotion to sooth bites and rashes or Benadryl itch stopping cream which incorporates an antihistamine to calm the most miserable itch. Don't forget an antifungal cream such as Lamisil for athlete's foot. Monistat for a yeast infection and Uristat for a bladder infection relieves pain, burning and discomfort from an infection.

Cuts and Burns

Bandages such as Band-Aids in a variety of sizes will come in handy. You also should carry gauze which comes in different lengths and widths. With the use of scissors, you can cut the Johnson & Johnson brand of gauze to the size needed then use medical tape to wrap the gauze to the body. When cleaning the wound, use hydrogen peroxide which inflicts less pain than alcohol then rub antibiotic cream such as Neosporin on the wound to prevent the spread of an infection.


I never thought of putting a magnifying glass in my cabinet. However, I can see the practicality of using it along with a pair of tweezers to take out a piece or glass or splinter in your finger. A thermometer which takes someone's temperature by mouth as well as rectally is a good investment.

My medicine cabinet isn't as bad off as I thought. Although I don't have a magnifying glass or anything to help with a yeast or bladder infection, I do have many of the staples listed above such as aspirin, Mucinex DM, Tums, Pepcid, eyedrops, antihistamines which should carry me through the cold season.

I also will be on the lookout for a First Aid book which I will keep in the drawer in the bathroom. This way I have a reference book I can go to when I need an answer quickly. I am glad that I took the time to clean out my medicine cabinet as well as examine what I don't have in case of an emergency or sickness.

With the list I have compiled, all that I need to do is buy the items for the best price. I understand that we can't always be prepared for every eventuality but who wants to bundle up in their coat to drive to the store while they are feeling awful due to a cold or other illness. I surely don't! Why not take the time now to stock up your medicine cabinet with the necessary essentials for the cold season that is quickly coming upon us?

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