Slipped while chopping onions, bruised knee or woke up in the morning with a headache. The medicine cabinet is often the savior in an emergency – but only if it is well equipped and regularly checked. We explain what is important.
Often all sorts of things accumulate in the medicine cabinet or it is neglected. The medicine cabinet is not only an issue for the chronically ill or allergy sufferers. Even healthy people should think of a basic range in order to be able to help quickly if they have a cold or injuries. But what is actually necessary?
What should a medicine cabinet contain?
The basic equipment includes bandages such as plaster strips in various sizes, sterile wound pads and gauze bandages. Adhesive plasters or bandage clips then help with the fixation. Disposable gloves and wound disinfectants are also essential to minimize the risk of infection. Tweezers, tick tongs and a clinical thermometer should also not be missing.
A hot water bottle is good for abdominal discomfort , menstrual pain and tension. The same services also enable more sustainable grain pillows made from cereals or cherry pits. Cooling compresses provide first aid for sports injuries; however, they should be kept in the freezer.
In addition, the most important emergency medicine should always be included. These include medicines for pain, fever, and a nasal decongestant spray. It is important to note that children need an age-appropriate dosage. Gargle solutions or throat tablets are useful against discomfort in the mouth and throat area. In summer, an ointment or gel is useful for insect bites, sunburn or itching. Likewise, think of indigestion remedies such as constipation and diarrhea
Where should the medicine cabinet be?
Medicines are sensitive products and like it as dark and dry as possible and not too cold or too warm. If they are stored incorrectly, they may lose their effectiveness. Suitable places are therefore the bedroom, a storage room or the hallway. Bathroom and kitchen, on the other hand, are not included: it is often too humid and too warm here. The window sill is also ruled out, as drugs should never be exposed to sunlight.
Storage at a room temperature of 15 to 25 degrees Celsius is not always appropriate. Insulins, contraceptive rings, a few eye drops and ointments belong in the refrigerator – ideally in the vegetable drawer. The ideal temperature here is 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. From a hygienic point of view, this is not a problem, as medication should always be kept in its box anyway. In addition, many little helpers are individually packaged and are only removed from their protective cover for use.
Particular care is required when children live in the household. It happens again and again that small children negligently mistake tablets for candy. To avoid this, the medicine cabinet should definitely be lockable.
How long can drugs be kept?
Also keep the medicines in the original box – including the package leaflet. Here you will find important information on side effects, correct intake and shelf life. Many preparations can only be used to a limited extent after opening: Liquid preparations such as eye and gastrointestinal drops or nasal sprays sometimes only last four weeks after opening. Therefore, always make a note of the date it was opened.
The following signs can also indicate that the medicine belongs in the trash:
- Gel, cream, ointment or suppository has liquefied or discolored
- Tablets are discolored or cracked
- Packaging is bloated
- Product smells strange or different
- Components in a liquid flocculate
- The liquid is cloudy
Expired or changed medicine not only loses its effectiveness. It can also be harmful to health: for example, aspirin can break down and cause severe stomach pain; Eye drops can contaminate with prolonged use and provoke an infection.
Dispose of medicine properly
It is recommended that you check your medicine cabinet thoroughly at least once a year. But where should you put the sorted out remedies? If the package insert does not contain any special information, you can dispose of them with household waste or you can take the old medication to the nearest pharmacy, which often takes them back voluntarily.
Under no circumstances do they belong in the toilet. The active ingredients end up in the environment, as sewage treatment plants cannot retain all the substances contained in the wastewater.
When is it better to see a doctor?
Even the best medicine cabinet can reach its limits. This is the case, for example, in the following situations:
- Fever rises to over 40 degrees Celsius
- a wound is very deep, contaminated, or bleeding profusely
- an insect bite on the eye or mouth or in the mouth swells massively
- Diarrhea lasts more than three days, is bloody, or has a fever
- extremely strong headaches suddenly reach their maximum within seconds
- Headaches come with a high fever and stiff neck, dizziness, blurred vision, or paralysis
If possible, contact your family doctor first. If a visit to the doctor cannot be postponed, the medical on-call service will help. He can be reached under the toll-free number 116117. If there is a risk to life or permanent damage cannot be ruled out, the emergency number 112 should be dialed.
Knowledge to take away
The medicine cabinet should have simple remedies ready for colds, pain, fever and gastrointestinal complaints – make sure that you use the correct dosage form for children. In the event of injuries, bandages, wound disinfectants, hot water bottles and cooling compresses are useful. In the event of severe injuries or drastic discomfort, a doctor should be contacted.
In order for the medicines to work and be safe, they must be protected from moisture, heat and sunlight. If the helpers exceed their expiration date, if they change their appearance or smell, they belong in the household waste – but never in the drain.