Your Medicine Cabinet’s Top Five Must-Haves

Your family’s health and wellness is one of your top priorities, and you’ve likely taken many precautions to ensure you’re always prepared for any ailment or injury that may befall them. But, when was the last time you cleaned out and restocked the medicine cabinet in your home?

Maintaining good overall health means more than knowing how to call 9-1-1 or memorizing the route to the nearest urgent care. It also includes preparing yourself for minor health issues that could be handled at home. Read on to find out if your medicine cabinet has all the necessities for a happier, healthier family.

Digestive Aids

Sometimes we experience a lapse in judgment and we realize too late we probably shouldn’t have taken the family out for burritos or we should have left the chicken breast on the grill for a bit longer. Whether your digestive system is raging due to your diet or an ongoing illness that affects your digestion such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s disease, it’s always good to have some over-the-counter drugs stashed away to help ease discomfort.

You’ve probably seen the commercials since you were a child and know the jingle by heart – nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea. Now it’s time to make sure you have a bottle of the pink stuff in your medicine cabinet to help alleviate digestion discomfort. Keep in mind liquid bismuth isn’t a cure-all drug. If you or your loved ones are constipated, a laxative may be an equally sound purchase. For situations in which diarrhea is the lone gastrointestinal symptom, anti-diarrheal loperamide medication can prove invaluable.

Pain Relievers

Everyone sleeps a little funny or overexerts themselves during exercise every once in a while, resulting in aches and pains. Dulling the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers could be the difference between a productive day and one spent immobile or distracted. In addition, pain relievers can relieve headaches, migraines and even fevers, so they’re an extremely valuable resource to have when the kids are sick with the flu. Ensure your medicine cabinet has a large supply of ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen or acetaminophen for use when needed. Although each of these pain relievers reduces pain and fevers, some varieties may have unwanted side effects, especially when taken in excess or on an empty stomach.

  • Aspirin may upset the stomach, reduce blood clotting and affect the liver. Children, teenagers, those undergoing surgery and those on blood thinners should avoid aspirin.
  • Ibuprofen and naproxen may also upset the stomach and shouldn’t be taken by children under 12.
  • Acetaminophen may harm the liver when combined with multiple doses of the same drug from different sources, such as taking acetaminophen and a cold medication. Child-friendly doses are available.

Cold or Allergy Medicines

Nowadays, it can feel like a miracle if your family gets through the year without becoming sick with a cold or falling victim to a particularly bad allergy season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults typically have two to three colds per year, while children have even more, thanks to the close quarters of school. However, every person’s allergies or colds manifest in unique ways. One person may experience incessant coughing and itchy eyes, while another may have a runny nose and a sore throat. To keep you on the move, make sure your medicine cabinet has a healthy supply of the cold and allergy medications that work best for you.

  • Decongestants drain your sinuses, often resulting in better breathing but more nose blowing. Any medication with pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine will be located behind the counter.
  • Dry cough suppressants can help ease an itchy, hacking cough. Look for the drug dextromethorphan.
  • Wet cough suppressants can loosen mucus buildup in the lungs, which in turn reduces coughing. Look for the drug guaifenesin


Fevers are a natural part of fighting off any infectious illness like the cold or flu, but sometimes, fevers can become dangerous. While you may have fond memories of your mother or father gently pressing their hand, wrist or forehead to your skin when you were home sick, this isn’t a particularly accurate way to gauge the severity of a fever. Because we generate our own body heat, our nerve endings in our palms, wrists and forehead can’t detect the acute changes in heat that could mean the difference between a day in bed and a stay in the hospital.

Find an accurate thermometer to keep in your medicine cabinet. Thermometers can give you an extremely precise reading on body temperature, so you can determine the best course of action for yourself or your family member. Remember: any temperature reading over 102 degrees in children or 100 degrees in infants requires an immediate trip to the emergency room. For older children, teenagers and adults, consider their behavior and activity levels before deciding if the hospital is necessary.

Wound Kits

Kids will be kids, and that means they’ll trip, fall and scrape their knees and elbows more times than you can count. Prepare for all the “boo-boos” and “ouchies” that may go on in your house with a properly stocked first aid or wound kit.

These kits usually include an antibacterial cream or gel, bandages, gauze, medical tape, tweezers and petroleum jelly. When a scrape, cut or abrasion happens, ensure you wash the injury thoroughly with soap and water and pat it dry before applying the anti-bacterial cream or gel. Apply firm pressure with gauze to stop any bleeding. If debris is stuck in the wound, use the tweezers to remove it. Once the bleeding has stopped, you can now dress the wound depending on the location. Adhesive bandages may be best for fingers, arms or legs, for example, while medical tape might best dress injuries on joints or in awkward spots.

Find a Health Team Your Family Can Count on at St. Hope Foundation

Staying healthy means more than going to the doctor when you have the flu. You should also be prepared for minor everyday health problems to prevent something small from growing into a major issue. Part of maintaining your family’s health is visiting your primary care physician for your annual checkups. If you’re struggling to find an honest, knowledgeable physician for your family in the Houston area, St. Hope Foundation may be the right place for you.

We’re an entirely nonprofit healthcare facility that can handle all your needs from checkups to diabetic attention, dental care and much more. Contact us online or call 713-778-1300 to learn more about our services or to schedule your appointment today!