The first step is to organize your medicine cupboard and medications. Remember the following:
Over-the-counter items you may consider keeping with your supplies in the medicine cupboard are:
In the cough and cold section, choose a product that will treat your current symptoms. Do not choose a product that contains many ingredients to treat many symptoms. Always read the label to find out what symptom the product treats. Check the safety information for side effects, problems mixing with other drugs you may be taking, or health problems that are a concern with this drug. Avoid cough and cold medicines that contain alcohol. Do not use medicines that contain sugar, such as sucrose, maltose, dextrose or fructose. With sugar-free products, you do not need to account for their carbohydrate value. Sugar-free products containing sorbitol can cause diarrhea.
Decongestants can relieve your stuffy nose, but those you take by mouth can increase your blood glucose levels. Nasal decongestant sprays or drops should be used for no more than five days. After that they tend to worsen nasal stuffiness instead of helping. A saline nasal spray may help to relieve congestion without affecting blood sugar levels and can be used for an unlimited time. To ease a sore throat, sugarless throat lozenges or gargling with warm salt water may be helpful.
If your cough has no mucus, a cough suppressant like dextromethorphan may be helpful. If your cough does have mucus, an expectorant (which helps loosen mucus) like guaifenesin may help. Again, choose a product that is alcohol and sugar-free.
You should keep the following first aid items in a first aid kit or in your medicine cupboard:
The Poison Centre suggests that stocking syrup of ipecac and activated charcoal is not necessary, as these are no longer recommended for treating home poisoning.
Some supplies for diabetes which you may store in your medicine cupboard (if they are not already with your diabetes supplies) are:
Some products in the foot care section can be dangerous for people with diabetes. If you develop corns, calluses, or warts, do not treat them yourself at home. Do not cut corns or calluses, as this can lead to foot injuries. Do not use over-the-counter chemicals to remove these foot problems. Check with your doctor or a podiatrist to have these assessed and treated.
To reduce the evaporation of moisture from the outer layer of skin, moisturizers contain ingredients called occlusive agents. They give skin a look and feel that is soft and smooth. Some occlusive agents are yellow or white petrolatum, lanolin, eucarin, wheat germ oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, simethicone, and dimethicone, to name a few. The occlusive agents usually are listed at the beginning of the ingredient label.
Other ingredients called humectants can be added to the softening and soothing or moisturizing base. These agents draw water to the top layer of the skin to hydrate the skin. Examples of these agents include glycerin, propylene glycol, urea, butylene glycol, lactic acid, and lecithin. Other ingredients can be added to the moisturizer, which may not help increase the moisture on your skin. Examples of these are collagen, elastin, amino acids, proteins, aloe vera, allantoin, and liptosomes.
Moisturizers come in a wide selection of lotions, creams or ointments. Many of these are either oil in water or water in oil preparations. The oil in water mixture can produce a cooling effect to relieve itching. The water in oil combination has a higher oil content, and less drying occurs through evaporation, but may feel greasy.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Vitamins and minerals are available from eating a well balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. If you have diabetes, your vitamin and mineral supplement needs may differ from a person without diabetes. People with poor glucose control may pass their urine often. This can lead to a loss of water soluble nutrients, and may warrant use of a vitamin-mineral supplement.
It is safe to take a daily multiple vitamin-mineral supplement that contains no higher than 100 per cent of the recommended daily allowances. If you choose to take a supplement, remember to continue to eat in a healthy manner. As well, with vitamins and minerals more is not necessarily better. Check with a health professional if you are considering taking supplement doses which exceed the recommended daily allowance.
There is a lot of interest in the antioxidant vitamins, which include beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and selenium. It is thought that high blood glucose levels can cause the production of free radicals, which can damage body cells. Antioxidants may help. However, more research needs to be done before a dosage specifically for a person with diabetes can be recommended. Discuss this with your doctor. Meanwhile, good sources of antioxidants are dark green and orange vegetables and fruits.
Vitamins should be protected from excessive heat, light and moisture. House brand names are usually as good as advertised brand names, and often less expensive. Some synthetic vitamins, which are less costly, are thought to be as good as those from natural sources. Check with your healthcare provider about which product would be best for you.
There is a growing number of herbal products on the market. You may wonder if these products are safe and effective. There are some concerns with a few. 'Natural' does not necessarily mean 'safe.' Herbal products can cause side effects, react with medication you may be taking, or cause a problem with diseases including diabetes.
These are some of the known reactions. Other herbal products may be safe to use. You should consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking an herbal product and let your doctor know if you are taking one. It is very important to continue taking your prescription medications as advised by your doctor. Before making any changes or additions to your medications, check with your doctor.
In the over-the-counter section of your pharmacy, there are many products available for home health care. When choosing a product for self-medication or stocking a medicine cupboard, it is important to read the label carefully. Check to see if the new product reacts with any medicine that you are taking. Be sure it is safe for your diabetes, or for any other medical condition you may have. If you have any concerns or questions, always ask your pharmacist or doctor for assistance. As well, before purchasing any non-prescription medications or vitamin or herbal supplements, always check with your doctor or pharmacist.