Emergency Care For You

Medicine Cabinet Annual Checkup

The New Year is a great opportunity to clean out and restock your medicine cabinet.  Like a refrigerator, medicine cabinet supplies pile up. Those supplies can often expire and are notrecommended for use anymore.

“You should do this once a year, at least,” said ACEP spokesperson Dr. Nick Jouriles.  “A year’s worth of showers and baths create heat and humidity that can cause some drugs to lose potency.  It’s good to get rid of them and replace themif they need to be replaced.”  If a pillloses potency, you may not be getting the necessary dosage of medication.  Holding on to several old prescriptions can also increase the risk of taking the wrong pill.

A bathroom medicine cabinet is not always the best place to store over-the-counter or prescription medications. Instead, keep them in a linen closet or a dark area, especially awayfrom children.  According to a recentarticle in the Annals of EmergencyMedicine, poison centers reported thousands of very young childrenaccidentally ingesting medications prescribed to adults in their households.

You should also be thinking about what essential things are good to always have inyour medicine cabinet. They include:

  • Adhesive bandages of assorted sizes (to cover minor cuts and scrapes)
  • Gauze pads (to dress larger cuts and scrapes)
  • Adhesive tape (tokeep gauze in place)
  • Thermometer (donot use mercury-based thermometers)
  • Alcohol wipes andhydrogen peroxide (to disinfect wounds)
  • Up-to-dateprescription and over-the-counter drugs
  • Antibioticointment (to disinfect and protect wounds from infection)
  • Antacid
  • Antihistamine(for allergic reactions)
  • Hydrocortisonecream (to relieve irritation from rashes)
  • Decongestant (bemindful of dosages for appropriate ages)
  • Acetaminophen,ibuprofen and aspirin(note:  aspirinshould not be taken by children or teens under age 19)
  • Antiseptic wipes(to disinfect wounds or clean hands)