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Vitamins, lotion, supplements and grooming products are all common in medicine cabinets. But do you have a thermometer? Experts also advise storing medicine away from the heat and humidity of bathroom cabinets.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
No medicine in medicine cabinet
Despite its name, the medicine cabinet in the bathroom is a poor place to store medicine.
“They can absorb water and cannot be as potent,” Morscheiser said. “I don’t keep anything in my bathroom.”
Store medication in a cool, dry place, secure from theft and children, Morschesier said. Liquid medications are safer in the bathroom because their containers seal better, she said.
Bathroom cabinets tend to be warm and humid which speed up the breakdown of drugs, especially tablets and capsules, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. Heat and moisture can make medicines less potent before their expiration date. A warm, muggy environment can cause aspirin tablets to break down into acetic acid (vinegar) and salicylic acid, both of which can irritate the stomach.
Replace any medications that are out of date and throw out unused, expired medicine. Use community drug drop boxes or consult a pharmacist for proper disposal.
What’s in your medicine cabinet? There is probably a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, painkiller, a box of Band-Aids and various grooming tools and products.
What about pills? Yes, if you need them, but no, they shouldn’t be kept in the bathroom. Do you have a thermometer? You should.
The contents of a medicine cabinet are like a first-aid kit and will differ from person-to-person, family-to-family, and if there are children in the household, said Donna Morscheiser, registered pharmacist at Family Pharmacy, Peru.
“If it’s the family of a little kid they might have more Benadryl (allergy medication) and Band-aids and such, baby Tylenol,” she said.
Here are the top 10 things you need in your medicine cabinet.
Thermometer: To check severity of a fever, buy a medical thermometer, without mercury.
“They’re so inexpensive anymore. Even the little digital ones, you can get them real cheap,” Morscheiser said.
Normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Adult oral temperature above 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) is considered a fever.
You should treat a fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or higher and seek medical attention at 103 F (39.4 C) or if a fever has lasts more than three days, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For babies and children, seek medical attention if: - A baby younger than 3 months has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F (38 C). - A baby older than 3 months has a temperature of 102 F (38.9 C) or higher - A child younger than 2 has a fever longer than one day or a child 2 or older has a fever longer than three days.
Bandages: Include adhesive strips in assorted sizes and medical tape to hold them in place. Antiseptic: This includes hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol, which kill bacteria on contact and help clean scrapes and cuts before bandaging.
“Rubbing alcohol burns so you have to be careful with it,” Morscheiser said.
Hydrogen peroxide stings less. Antibiotic ointment can be applied before covering with a bandage.
Acetaminophen and NSAIDS: These drugs relieve pain and reduce fever and inflammation. Patients who must avoid aspirin choose acetaminophen but care must be taken in dosage and mixing with other drugs.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Aspirin also serves as an emergency heart attack treatment, the American Heart Association says.
Antifungal medicine: For athlete’s foot and jock itch.
Dental floss: If you have toothpaste and toothbrush, you might as well get floss to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Antiseptic mouthwash completes protection.
Cold and flu medicine: This includes decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressants. Keep this medicine in stock to avoid a trip to the drugstore when a cold or flu sets in.
Anti-itch cream: This includes calamine lotion, antihistamine cream and cortisone to treat allergic skin reactions, hives and poison ivy. Buy these products in tubes to carry while traveling, Morscheiser said.
Heat and ice packs: To provide relief for headaches, sprains, injuries and sore muscles. Morschesier recommends buying small instant-activated cold packs. Cold is usually best for treating injuries, she said.
Tools: Nail clippers and tweezers. You need tweezers to remove splinters, ticks, stray hairs and to perform many other tasks.
Honorable mention Antacids: Provide quick relief from heartburn. Measuring spoon: You need a calibrated measuring spoon or cup for liquid medicines.
“That’s a good idea so they can measure it out correctly,” Morscheiser said.
Emergency instructions: Important phone numbers to doctors and centers, medication instructions, allergy alerts, list of prescription medications.
Disposable rubber gloves: Invaluable if you have to help treat someone else, especially if they are bleeding.
Muscle cream: This includes balm, self-heating wrap, heating pad, topical creams and adhesive patches to relieve muscle soreness.