- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2000

If one is taking the time to organize a first-aid kit, it alsomight be a good time to take stock of what medications are in the familymedicine cabinet, says Robert G. Donovan, president of the Council onFamily Health, a Washington-based consumer group.

Over-the-countermedications that can work for a variety of ailments includeacetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) in both adult andchildren's strength, says Dr. Tiffany Osborn, a Baltimore emergencyphysician and a spokeswoman for the American College of EmergencyPhysicians.

Those types of pain relievers can help with headaches andmuscle strains, as well as for teething pain in infants.

The Councilon Family Health recommends keeping antiseptic ointment or towelettes,hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment on hand to disinfect cuts andscrapes. Anti-itch lotion (such as calamine) is helpful for insectbites, itching and minor skin irritations; and antihistamines (such asBenadryl) will help itching and sneezing in an allergic reaction. Alsohelpful: decongestants and cough medicine for children and adults,general stomach medications such as Mylanta and anti-diarrhealmedications.

Dr. Osborn also recommends having several doses of syrupof ipecac, which induces vomiting, but advises not using the medicationuntil after speaking with poison control. She also reminds families tokeep a thermometer on hand.

Mr. Donovan says an annual sweep of themedicine chest should ensure that prescriptions are up to date andover-the-counter medicines are stocked. He advises tossing anything thatis past its expiration date or has changed color or odor.

"The council recommends that consumers look through and throw away old medicines at least once a year," hesays.

He also offers these tips for a safe and well-organized medicinecabinet:

• Dispose of medicines safely. Rather than putting them inthe trash, where a small child can get them, flush them down the toiletor pour into the sink drain.

• Store medicines in a cool, dryplace.

• Always store medications out of the sight and reach ofchildren.

• Be sure all medicines have child-resistant caps, but stillkeep products out of sight and out of reach.

• Teach children torespect medicines. Avoid taking medication in front of children andnever tell children that medicine you give them is candy or tastes likecandy.

• Read labels. Always take medicine as directed on the label.When taking liquid medicines, be sure to measure out contents.

• Takeonly your own prescriptions. No matter how effective a medicine is, noone medicine works for everyone.

• Always keep medication in itsoriginal bottle to avoid taking the wrong thing.

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