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Give your Medicine Cabinet a Make-over

As if you didn't have enough to do over the holidays, now is a good time to give your medicine cabinet a long overdue make-over. Take everything out, clean it thoroughly, and only put back what really needs to be there. Throw out anything that is expired, "old" prescriptions for conditions you no longer have, or any products containing ingredients such as phenylpropanolamine, a common ingredient in cold products and diet pills that the FDA banned.

Think "location, location, location" when storing medicines. This can improve safety and help you take your medicines properly. Other tips on medicine safety?

First, keep ALL medicines out of the reach of children. Next, store medicines according to the package directions. . .which means you have to read them. Store your medicines where you are most likely to use them. Is your lifestyle on the go? You may be better off carrying your medicines with you. This also works if you just can't remember to take your medicines every morning. If it's with you, you can take it when you remember. And, if you have medicines that must be taken in emergencies or as soon as you have certain symptoms, keep it with you at all times.

There are now more than 300,000 over-the-counter medicines: which ones do you really need? Think about what should be in the medicine cabinet and what shouldn't, what first aid products you should have, and how to organize your home remedies so they're available when-and where-you need them.

In general, think of products as those used daily, those used occasionally, and emergency products.

Products used daily may include: Daily medicines, vitamins and supplements. And of course, toothpaste & dental floss.

Products used occasionally-may be used more frequently in winter, especially during the holidays:

These include headache, pain, and fever medicines and cough/cold/or flu symptom products. Sometimes its tough to tell, but they are all made from combinations of up to 5 ingredients: decongestant, cough suppressant, expectorant, anti-histamine, and fever/pain reducers. It's also handy to have a cream for itchy skin reactions as well as products for all the usual stomach or bowel problems.

An emergency first aid kit should be kept at home and in the car. Add something for minor burns, an antibiotic cream for minor cuts, and an antihistamine for unexpected allergic reactions.

Created: 12/29/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.
Reviewed: 12/27/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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