Back to Living Better
Woman looking through her medicine cabinet.

8 things you need in your medicine cabinet

Which essentials should you have in your medicine cabinet at home? Charmille Hare, D.O., a family medicine physician at Piedmont, shares the key products everyone should keep on hand in case of a minor illness or injury.

For all of these medications, take as directed by the package labels and see your physician if you are dealing with a chronic condition (like migraines or heartburn) or if you don’t find relief after several days of home treatment.

1. Pain reliever

Whether you have a headache, menstrual cramps or a pulled muscle, non-prescription pain relievers can come in handy. There are three main categories of pain medication, all of which reduce fever and relieve pain, explains Dr. Hare. You may find one particular variety works best for your needs. The most common over-the-counter pain relievers include:

  • Aspirin. Aspirin can cause stomach irritation in some people.
  • Anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen and naproxen (Aleve).
  • Acetaminophen, like Tylenol. Too much can affect the liver.

Again, following package directions is crucial, because taking too much of these medications long-term can lead to complications such as stomach irritation and even liver failure.

2. Cough medicine

“For coughs, you can use anything over-the-counter and it will work pretty well,” says Dr. Hare.

If you have a productive cough (i.e., you have mucus in your chest), look for a product with the expectorant guaifenesin, which will help loosen the secretions.

“Then you can actually cough up the mucus you have,” she explains.  

3. Cold medicine

“For colds, over-the-counter medications work very well,” says Dr. Hare.

Decongestants help with congestion associated with the common cold or a virus, while other ingredients help relieve pain and even promote a better night’s sleep.

4. Antihistamines

For allergies, antihistamines can be your best friend. While there are many varieties from which to choose, Dr. Hare recommends paying close attention to the words “non-drowsy.” For daytime use, non-drowsy medication is your best bet, but if your allergies are keeping you from a good night’s rest, a sleep-promoting medication (such as Benadryl) can be beneficial.

5. Digestive aids

For digestive issues, there are three types of at-home medications you can use:

  • Tums or Rolaids for mild, food-related heartburn. While they do not provide long-term relief, these quick-release formulas tame symptoms quickly.
  • Mylanta or Maalox are helpful for those who have heartburn on a regular basis and are longer-lasting than fast-release chewables like Tums.
  • Zantac or Prevacid for long-acting relief. These are recommended for those who suffer from daily heartburn.

If you suffer from chronic heartburn, see your physician. He or she may recommend a regimen of the medications listed above and/or other therapies, particularly if you have an underlying condition causing your symptoms.

6. Ointments and creams

“For itching, burning or irritation of the skin, there are several categories of topical medications you can use,” says Dr. Hare. They include:

  • Calamine lotion, an “old favorite” that helps relieve itching and irritation of the skin.
  • Topical Benadryl cream if calamine lotion doesn’t alleviate symptoms. This cream blocks histamine, which is a common culprit behind skin itching and irritation.
  • Topical steroids, if the previous two creams don’t provide relief. The most common over-the-counter topical steroid is cortisone, which is a low-potency steroid that works very well for itching.

7. Infection prevention

Dr. Hare recommends keeping hydrogen peroxide and an antibiotic ointment on hand for minor cuts and scrapes.

8. Minor burn remedies

For minor burns, she recommends a topical antibiotic, like Neosporin, to prevent infection.

“It’s important to have these things on hand because you never know what could happen,” says Dr. Hare. “Emergencies and illnesses happen all the time and some things don’t require you to rush to a doctor.”

Dr. Hare practices at Piedmont Physicians Group Locust Grove, located at 5040 Bill Gardner Parkway, Suite 310, Locust Grove, GA 30248. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Hare or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

Related Stories

Schedule your appointment online

3">Piedmont Newnan

 

Atlanta

Search for jobs in Atlanta >>Piedmont Atlanta

Atlanta Overview

Atlanta is the capital of Georgia. With approximately 5,457,831 residents, Atlanta is the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States. Its economy ranks 15th among world cities and sixth in the nation. Atlanta is home to over 350 parks and green stations, 60 shopping centers, and over 4,000 restaurants. 

Newnan

Search for jobs in Newnan >>Newnan

Newnan Overview

Newnan is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Atlanta. As one of the fastest growing cities in Georgia, residents of Newnan have access to 10 parks and several golf courses located throughout this beautiful and scenic city.

Fayetteville

Search for jobs in Fayetteville >> Fayetteville

Fayetteville Overview

This city is best known for its deeply rooted history and charming neighbors. Fayetteville is located less than 25 miles from Atlanta and has approximately 16,000 residents.  According to SafeWise.com, Fayetteville is one of the safest cities in Georgia.

Area Information

Shopping

Recreation and Entertainment

Awards and Recognition

  • 2014 Safest Cities - Neighborhoodscout.com and Safewise.com
  • Georgia's Best Place to Raise Kids 2013 - BusinessWeek, 2012
  • Top 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S., CNN/Money Magazine, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013
  • Top 10 Cities for Families, Family Circle Magazine, 2011
Fayetteville
 

Jasper

Search for jobs in Jasper >>Jasper

Jasper Overview

Jasper is home to 3,684 residents. It is located 50 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia. It is the perfect combination of small town simplicity and rustic charm. Jasper's picturesque mountains and vast trails are perfect for biking, hiking, and camping.

Stockbridge

Search for jobs in Stockbridge >>Stockbridge

Stockbridge Overview

Stockbridge is located 20 miles south of Atlanta and is comprised of around 25,637 residents. Citizens of this community enjoy an array of local festivals and events each year. This small town represents southern hospitality at its best.

Area Information

Shopping

Recreation and Entertainment

communities
 
Piedmont App

Download the Piedmont Now app

  • Directions
  • Indoor Hospital Navigation
  • Find & Save Physicians
  • Online Scheduling

Download the app today!

Get the Piedmont Now on Google Play Get the Piedmont Now on iTunes App Store