There’s nothing worse than grappling about for a heartburn cure in the middle of the night only to find there’s nothing but an old corn plaster and a pair of tweezers in your first aid kit. So, here’s what to have on hand for that inevitable emergency…
Before we give you this unmissable advice, it goes without saying that these are for minor illnesses – if you feel really unwell or symptoms persist always contact your doctor first. Don’t forget to check regularly that your medicines haven’t passed their ‘best before’ dates, don’t mix them with alcohol, never exceed the stated dose and always, always check the contraindications to ensure they are safe for you or your child to take. Plus, unless your cabinet is lockable, put it high enough on a wall so kids can’t reach it.
Pains, aches and colds
Paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin are all great at seeing off a hangover, and relieving muscle pain and cold symptoms, but the last two can also irritate the stomach. Don’t give aspirin to children and under 16s, either.
Rub-on painkillers might work faster than a pill on a pulled muscle, so try one of them first.
Decongestants may contain antihistamines, so while they might unblock your nose, they can also cause drowsiness – so bear that in mind.
Cough medicine: for a dry, hacking cough, ask for one that contains a cough suppressant to help you get some sleep at night.
Thermometer – a must have if you have young children in particular, the electronic kind is easy to use, or one that goes under the arm is good for babies.
‘Antihistamine tablets help to control hay fever symptoms, and calm minor allergic reactions to food. They can also help to calm itchiness during chickenpox,’ says Sunita Behl of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain on www.nhs.uk. Ask your pharmacist for one that won’t make you drowsy and consider antihistamine eyedrops, too, for itchy eyes.
Digestive problems and tummy upsets
Antacids relieve heartburn, tummy ache and trapped wind.
Anti-diarrhoea medicines are a good last solution for adults if you can’t just stay at home and let it work its way out of your system. Keep a rehydration product to hand, too, especially for children – and drink plenty of water.
Cuts and burns
Bandages, plasters and gauze pads: you can never have too many of these if you have kids, who are constantly cutting, scraping and (occasionally) burning themselves. Serious burns should be wrapped in clingfilm to keep them clean – then hot foot it to A&E.
Medical tape to hold the gauze in place. Choose a hypoallergenic one if you have sensitive skin (and most kids do).
Antiseptic creams or sprays can treat anything from cuts to stings. Once you’ve washed wounds, a quick spritz of this might help the healing process.
Tweezers aren’t just for plucking eyebrows – they’re good for removing splinters, too.
Tweezerman wide grip tweezer in stainless steel, Amazon