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Stocking your medicine cabinet, the smart way




With the ongoing spread of Covid-19, more emphasis is being placed on maintaining good health. While there is currently no treatment for the disease, there are a number of medications and devices that can be used at home to address some of the symptoms associated with it.

Unless you’re starting fresh with an empty new medicine cabinet, the best approach to setting up a truly useful one is to take a complete inventory of what you have and prepare yourself to discard most of it.

Most drugs deteriorate or change with time and exposure to air, moisture, or light so any item that has lost its label—or any prescription medicine left over from an illness long ago—should be thrown out regardless of age.

So, to get a sense of what you should have in your cabinet at this time, we asked doctors and pharmacists what they would want in their house for their own families. Here’s what they suggested.

Maintenance medicines

Make sure, to start, that you have at least a 30-day supply of prescription medications if you or anyone in your home take them.

“Prioritize family members with mental health conditions, chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, endocrine syndromes such as hyperthyroidism, and relapsing conditions such as asthma, epilepsy, vertigo, and gout,” said Dr. Azin John Libanan, a practitioner who has spent four years serving under the Doctors to the Barrios program of the Department of Health. “Ensure at least one to two months of supply at home or until the next visit to the doctor or health center.”

Those with mild febrile illness, he said, should stock up on analgesics. He also recommends getting antihistamine medications for those with allergies and antacids for those with hyperacidity conditions.

 Fever reducers, painkillers, and vitamins

Both acetaminophen and paracetamol will reduce fever, and can be used to treat symptoms of fever: aches, headaches, and chills.

“I prefer mefenamic acid for headaches,” said Dr. Thad Hinunangan, a pathology resident physician at the Philippine General Hospital. “It can also be used to relieve moderately severe pain, such as muscular aches and menstrual cramps.”

Strengthening your immune system is also vital. Dr. Teddy Herbosa, a special adviser at the National Task Force on Covid-19, recommends doing so by incorporating vitamins and minerals into your diet. “Get 1,000-mg vitamin C and, if possible, zinc and vitamin D3,” he said.

Over-the-counter remedies

Common over-the-counter medicines are effective in alleviating some symptoms, said pharmacist Leonila Ocampo, president of Asia Pacific Institute for Medication Management, Inc.

Throat lozenges will soothe an aching throat, which can come from coughing. Oral rehydration solutions, available at pharmacies, are an easy way to help restore your body’s natural balance of fluid and minerals when experiencing diarrhea.

The disease, however, manifests itself with respiratory distress in some instances. “For patients with mild symptoms, an over-the-counter bronchodilator may be used to ease the breathing,” Ocampo said. “Steam inhalation also helps.”

The most important thing, if you are feeling sick, is to communicate with a doctor or a pharmacist. “If you have more concerns or you’re experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, seek advice from a health professional for immediate management,” she added.

 First aid kit

Check if you have a well-stocked first aid kit, too. A thorough and convenient one can help treat minor cuts, sprains, and bruises.

Emely Abenir, a pharmacist and regulatory officer at D&L Industries, recommends having common items like cotton, ice bag, eye solution, scissors, surgical tape, alcohol, gauze dressing pads, face masks, and antiseptic bandages.

“Try to keep your kit small and simple and make sure you know how to properly use all of the items,” she said. “Train others in your family on how to use the kit and check regularly if any items are damaged or are out of date.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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