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Do you even HAVE a medicine cabinet? I don’t – doesn’t exist at my place. I have an old, pink, plastic basket that I believe can be dated to the Bush administration. First one. Sounds lame. Funny enough, it is kept right above the garlic and sugar bowl (!!!), high out of reach of any creature who can climb up on the countertop in my kitchen (yours should be out of reach for little ones too!). At 8 and 11 years old my children are past the “getting into medicines when they shouldn’t” phase, happily, and I find it kind of funny that our medicines aren’t even located in the bathroom. I digress…
The other day I was getting out some Ibuprofen and about 28 little medicine cups flew out everywhere. I promptly pitched those (stay tuned) but then thought we probably ought to talk about what we should all have in our medicine cabinets (or pink plastic baskets).
Let’s actually be organized and make categories:
Pain Medicine/fever reducers
I think it’s smart to have Acetaminophen(Tylenol) and ibuprofen(Motrin/Advil) in the house at all times. Unexpired. And in both pill and liquid format, depending on the age of your child. All these medicines come in different strengths, and just so I don’t have to write about incorrect dosing next week, please pick ONE concentration and stick with it so you know what you’re getting each time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember if you have the Tylenol 325mg or the 500mg. Same with infant vs child liquid medicine, as the infant formulation tends to be stronger. So if you give your child what you think is the right amount of liquid but the more concentrated form, you got a dosing problem. Let’s avoid that one. And your 28 little medicine dosing cups? Those either need to be trashed or else used for something OTHER THAN MEASURING LIQUID MEDICINE. We know that accuracy is off when we use those things, so we should stick to medicine syringes that measure in ml’s (or cc’s). Everyone’s “teaspoon” is different. Metric, y’all. Precision
Please keep diphenhydramine (Benadryl & the like) in your pink basket. Both tablets and the liquid if you have young kids. The allergy creams and over the counter hydrocortisone are great for itchy rashes. Remember that nasal steroid sprays like fluticasone can be obtained over the counter now and these are very helpful for stuffy, watery noses. Safe too.
Gloves, antiseptic spray or solution, bandages, petroleum jelly (many uses- see last week’s blog), gauze pads, antibiotic ointment and even a medium sized (1-2 inch) ace wrap are all handy.Tweezers don’t necessarily need to live with your medicine cabinet stash but it’s a good idea to have them in case stinger or tick removal is ever required.
It’s a good idea to do an occasional inventory of these and throw out the expired medications, especially eye drops that really do go bad after some time. PS- The best and safest way to dispose of your Rx meds is to see which pharmacy near you participates in drug disposal
A good thermometer
This is a solo category. Each type of thermometer- the ear kind, or the forehead kind, or the digital kind, etc. has its own can of worms so let’s just make sure you have one that works.
Activated Charcoal. Giving this medicine after an ingestion can really make a difference if your child accidentally gets into a medicine or substance they shouldn’t. If this happens, be sure to call Poison Control at 1-800-221-1222 so they can advise you on dosing. Reminder: ipecac is NO LONGER recommended.
Antacids. Over the counter therapy like Tums, Maalox or Mylanta can help an icky tummy settle down, but make sure that you discuss giving these kinds of medicines with your child’s pediatrician before doing so.
This, to me, is a reasonable collection of items for your inventory. You could go crazy and have a personal CVS in your house with more stuff, but why bother with that headache of having to routinely throw out more expired items-? Now that we have this list established, let’s get on to the more fun topic—what’s YOUR VERSION of the old, pink basket?
Christina Johns, MD, MEd is the Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatrics. As a parent, pediatrician and pediatric emergency physician with a master’s in education, she shares her own expertise, plus the wealth of knowledge from our highly skilled staff, with patients and families everywhere.
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