Preparing Your Medicine Cabinet for Cold and Flu Season


Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Another dreaded cold and flu season is upon us, and it is basically guaranteed your children will get sick. We all know when they do get sick, it will be the most inconvenient time, and then once they are feeling better, you will catch what they had. Viruses cause most common colds, and healthcare providers usually recommend the treatment of symptoms while the virus runs its course. It is important to consult a healthcare provider familiar with your child to guide treatment, especially if symptoms worsen. If you find yourself turning to over-the-counter treatments, here are five tips to prepare your medicine cabinet.

Check for expired medications.

When a medication is expired, it means it has lost full strength. An expired medication will not harm you the way expired food could. However, if you take an expired medication, you do not know what dose you are getting. The safest option is to throw away expired medication and replace it with new medication.

Ensure safe storage of all medications.

Children can get into cabinets easily, and accidental overdoses can occur. A child safety cap is meant to slow down a child, but that does not mean it is child-proof. Children’s medication labels are designed to be bright and attractive, and the medication has an appealing taste and scent to children.

Read the labels well to understand dosing instructions and age restrictions.

Unfortunately, many cold medications cannot be given to young children, and checking the labels or consulting a pediatrician is important. For young children, other supportive measures such as humidifiers, lots of fluids, and nasal suctioning are recommended. Also, it is recommended only to use calibrated dosing cups and syringes when giving medications. The kitchen spoons in your drawers are not a standard size and should not be used to dose medications.

Stick with buying single-ingredient medications instead of multi-symptom medication.

Medications with multiple ingredients can increase the risk of side effects, drug interactions, and overdose. Single-ingredient medications allow you to treat exactly what you need and not over-treat.

Cover your bases with the most used over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, cough drops, saline nasal spray, and guaifenesin.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used for fevers and body aches. Cough drops or menthol drops can help relieve sore throats and coughing. Saline nasal spray or saline rinses can help with nasal congestion. Guaifenesin can aid in thinning the mucous in the chest and allowing you to clear it with coughing. Cough suppressants should not be used during the day as coughing helps to clear mucous. If coughing prevents you from sleeping at night, a cough suppressant, such as dextromethorphan, can be used before bed.

Being sick is not fun for you or your kids. As moms, we would do anything to help them feel better. Sometimes, medications are not the answer, and sometimes they are. Please ensure you are comfortable, safe, and educated before giving your child any medications. Pharmacists are a great resource to answer your questions and are easily accessible at your local pharmacy. Even if you are treating symptoms with medications, always remember “rest is best,” as our favorite fuzzy guy, Daniel Tiger, says. I wish you a safe and healthy cold and flu season!



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