The [Medicine] Cabinet Files
By: Marylaine Viernes
Changing the term, ‘pandemic’ into ‘pentamic,’ (with penta being the root word for the number 5), here are our Top 5 must-haves for your medicine cabinet during a pandemic. Precariousness, the constant struggle to juggle work and childcare, and the lack of real-life engagement and community had all taken a toll, and I was depressed and anxious.
In these unprecedented times, it is wise to stock up well and to stock up right. The key is having the right things handy should you or anyone in your household develop coronavirus symptoms, such as fever and coughing. While the erratic rise of the disease due to the SARS-CoV2 may sound daunting, most people who contract the COVID-19 virus won’t actually require medical support or hospitalization; many will need to do their very best with what they’ve got and simply recover at home. This is why it is ideal for all the members of the household to be prepared to treat the virus and manage symptoms at home. It is not too different from the way that one practices self-care for seasonal allergies, influenza or the common cold.
It can be reassuring to know that one can possibly treat your own or your loved ones’ symptoms and stay comfortable as possible by simply putting the spotlight on stocking your medicine cabinet with these essential medicines and supplies for coronavirus symptoms and other common illnesses.
# 5 Thermometer
Since reopening after the lockdown, many establishments have espoused guidelines for customers such as wearing masks and undergoing a temperature check prior to entering. The latter is significant as fever is often the foremost sign of illness caused by a virus. Thus, having your own thermometer at home enables you to determine your temperature (remember, a temperature above 99.5°F is considered a fever), which allows you to decide whether or not to take that trip to the grocery or to the mall, saving you time, effort and money while letting you contribute to the community in your own little way.
Modern digital thermometers are affordable and widely available, and you even have the option of choosing what type best suits you and your family’s preferences; it can be one placed under the tongue, a scanner for the ear, a forehead scan, a pacifier thermometer or even one that comes in the form of a plastic strip. Keep your thermometer handy, but don’t forget that should symptoms persists especially with small children or infants, it is always best to consult with your trusted healthcare provider.
# 4 Acetaminophen
Most American households would always have Tylenol even before the pandemic. As mentioned, the key sign of a coronavirus infection is fever, so this type of medicine should be ingested to treat one’s elevated temperature.
The same goes with children as acetaminophen is said to be safer compared to aspirin, which experts do not recommend as these can cause Reye’s syndrome, a rare disorder that causes brain and liver damage after a child suffers from a viral infection, which may range from the flu, chicken pox, or Covid-19 due to the novel coronavirus.
Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (medicines like Benadryl) can help dry up excessive mucus caused by many illnesses due to a virus. Antihistamines can also help one breathe better at night if clogged nasal passages make it difficult to sleep. Plus, one aspect about Diphenhydramine which is favorable as it can further promote good sleep is it inducing drowsiness. But, if one cannot afford to be drowsy, then make sure to stock up on non-drowsy antihistamine options too such as Loratadine, with the brand Claritin being among the most popular ones.
When suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, a decongestant can help normalize breathing as this kind of medicine reduce swelling inside the nasal passages to allow air to pass through. Its sub-types, pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are both available over the counter or without a prescription and are generally safe. But if you or anyone in your household have other underlying medical conditions, remember that it is always best to consult your trusted doctor before stocking up.
# 1 First-Aid Kit
Topping the list of course, is an adequately stocked First-Aid Kit! This is a staple even without a pandemic. But more so now, when fever, dehydration, and lack of sleep from coughing or congestion may make a sick person more prone to injury due to fainting or perhaps diminished decision-making capacity (such as, burning your hand because you didn’t realize the pan’s handle was hot). Keep anti-diarrheal tablets, antibiotic ointment along with cold packs, bandages, and other first aid supplies in your medicine cabinet to treat these other potential effects of a serious illness like coronavirus.