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A healthy and hygienic lifestyle can help us avoid major illnesses. But there are always some minor ailments – an accidental fall, a small burn when cooking in a hurry, a cold from getting wet in the rain, a stomach upset from eating something spicy – that may occasionally affect our health. Prepare for such emergencies by stocking these essential medicines at home:
When someone is wounded, the first step is to wash it with water to remove any dust that may be sticking to the area. Immediately after this, it is important to cleanse the area with an antiseptic liquid that can prevent microorganisms from causing the wound to get infected. Keep an antiseptic liquid such as Dettol or Savlon at home for use in such situations. Of course, if the wound is a major or deep one, with the inner tissues exposed, it is best to immediately consult a doctor rather than attempting to tackle it yourself.
After you have cleaned the wound, it is good to apply an antibacterial ointment to reduce the risk of infection. Products such as Soframycin, Neosporin or Betadine are good options and can be applied to wounds in which the skin is not damaged badly.
When you have a wound, there is often the possibility of a slight swelling, redness and pain in the area. Sometimes, you may develop a muscle spasm or sprain when you bend or stretch in an unnatural manner. In such cases too, there will be pain and inflammation. People who suffer from fever or a respiratory tract infection accompanied by cough and cold may also find they have a slight pain all over the body. For all such situations, stock up on painkillers that are available over the counter (OTC) such as paracetamol(brand names Crocin and Metacin) and aspirin (brand names ASA and Disprin). However, make sure that you do not give aspirin to someone below 16 years of age; also, do not exceed a dose of 4 grams of paracetamol per day. If there is no relief in the pain even after two days of using a painkiller, it is better to consult a doctor to find out if there is some underlying problem.
Anti-inflammatory Cream or Ointment
A muscle pull, sprain or spasm can be quite painful while it lasts and although you may take painkiller medicines, applying a cream to the affected area will help you get better relief more quickly. Products such as Iodex or Tiger Balm contain compounds which have an anti-inflammatory action and when applied to the skin, these rapidly penetrate into the underlying tissues to provide relief from the swelling and pain.
When you develop a cold, there is bound to be nasal congestion that manifests as a blocked nose. The best way to treat this is by inhaling steam either as such or by adding in a little quantity of a nasal decongestant such as Vicks vaporub. Alternatively, stock up on nasal decongestant drops such as Nasivion and instill a few drops (or spray as recommended) every day to find relief. However, do not continue to use the drops for a very long time – if you do not find any relief after even two to three days, it is best to consult a doctor.
Some people are extremely allergic to insect bites or even dust and being bitten by an insect or exposure to dust can trigger off an allergic reaction that manifests as intense itching, severe swelling, a runny nose and watering of the eyes. All these symptoms are a result of the release of chemical called histamine and when you suffer from them, it is useful to take medicines called antihistamines. Medicines such as Avil and Cetzine are antihistamines and can help deal with the symptoms of allergy; however, these tend to cause a slight drowsiness and therefore, it is vital you do not drive or perform any activity that requires you to be alert after taking this medicine.
A cough or a cold is typically accompanied by an itching or painful sensation in the throat. While you may need antibiotics to treat an underlying infection, it is also important to use something that provides relief from the unpleasant sensations in the throat. Antitussive lozenges such as Strepsils or Vicks are helpful in such situations; however, do not give these to very small kids because they may choke if they are unable to control the lozenge from moving into the throat.
If you suffer from a burning sensation or pain in the stomach or excessive gas, it is quite likely that the acid normally present in the stomach is causing you problems. In such situations, an antacid is useful because it helps to neutralize the harmful effects of the acid and helps with digestion. Products such as Eno or Gelusil are antacids that can help overcome simple indigestion problems.
Oral Rehydration Salts
When something you eat does not agree with your stomach, you are likely to develop either diarrhoea or vomiting or both. When this happens, the body loses a significant amount of water as well as vital minerals and you need to replace these to prevent dehydration from setting in. Oral rehydration salts sold under names such as ORS or Electral are therefore a vital medicine you ought to have at home.
Diarrhoea (or loose motions) is a result of either indigestion or an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. While it is vital to replace the fluids you lose, it is also important to try and reduce the frequency of your visits to the toilet. Therefore, as a first line of treatment, you could try taking the medicine called loperamide which is sold under the brand name of Eldoper. However, if you do not find any change in status, please consult a doctor who can find out if you are suffering from an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.
These are a few of the essential medicines that ought to find a place in every family’s medicine cabinet. However, it is vital to remember that they can only be a first line of treatment and if the ailment persists beyond a couple of days, self-medication is not recommended; instead, you ought to visit a doctor to get a correct diagnosis and the right treatment.