16 November 2012

Health: OTC medication

Disclaimer: I am not any kind of health care practitioner. Talk to your doctor before you make any serious decisions regarding your healthcare, and if you do decide to do anything I mention here you do so at your own risk. Everything in this article is written under the assumption that you've somehow found yourself in a situation where it's difficult or impossible to get prompt professional medical attention.

I've read a lot of discussions about antibiotics, narcotic pain medications and other prescription drugs and where to get them. First let me say that antibiotics ARE the way to fight serious infections, and there's no substitute for some prescription medications. However most of the channels that people use to get antibiotics for their preps are expensive, and may not be an option for some folks. Some of them start looking for alternatives of the herbal or homeopathic variety, and if that's what you prefer then have at it- it's your health.

Another consideration when you're stocking up, and one that's sometimes overlooked, is having a ready supply of over-the-counter medications. They're limited in their application but they work, they're relatively inexpensive, and they're easy to get ahold of.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) are both non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. They're used to treat pain, swelling and fevers. I have on hand both the pill form for adults, and the liquid form for my kids. My pediatrician has on several occasions had us alternate the two to treat both fevers and pain in our children, and that has worked well for us. I've taken them on my doctor's orders to treat post-operative pain, and while they don't provide the relief you get from narcotic pain meds they do help a lot- without making you loopy.

Speaking of things my doctor has told me, I used to go in once a year with a sinus infection, or bronchitis, or pneumonia if I let it get bad for too long. My doctor, who was a formerly a flight surgeon in the military, understood that I needed to get back to work ASAP. He gave a list of everything I needed to get better fast. On that list was Mucinex D, which is a combination of guaifenesin and a nasal decongestant. I've stocked it ever since. Now I take an anti-snot pill when my symptoms start, and I haven't had one of those infections in years.

I also stock diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and ranitidine (Zantac), and not just for seasonal allergies. People in my family have a tendency to suddenly develop food allergies to things they've eaten all their lives with no problem. Let me stress that the only treatment for anaphylactic shock is to get the person to a hospital, but if you don't have an Epi-pen on hand and medical treatment can't be gotten to quickly, these may buy you some time. I stock Benadryl pills for DH's strange eye allergies, and liquid for the kids- just in case.  

I also have some aspirin, and it's not for headaches- it's for heart attacks. I went on several calls for service with the ambulance where someone with a heart condition had been instructed by their physicians to chew one before calling 911, and I've found plenty of evidence to support that this is a good idea.

I also have Loperamide (Imodium), some catch-all cold and flu treatments like NyQuil, and some omeprazole (Prilosec) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) for DH just in case his ulcer acts up again.