What This Doctor Mom Always Keeps in the Virus Medicine Cabinet

I am a doctor — but I am a parent first, which means there are certain items that are always in my medicine cabinet.

I am especially vigilant during the flu season. As the coronavirus, more specifically, Covid-19 spreads in many regions of the United States (and will spread in many more) preparation for comfort care is key. Remember, Covid-19 does not appear to be especially dangerous in children who are otherwise healthy. To date, those exposed have experienced cold and flu-like symptoms before making a full recovery. Regular seasonal flu actually appears to be more dangerous for children than Covid-19. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, children and most others will recover from flu and Covid-19 without in-hospital medical intervention. It is necessary to isolate children from the general population because although they seem less likely to become ill, they spread the virus to the vulnerable.

I always check expiration dates to be sure my stock is current. My stock includes the following items.

  1. Cold Packs – These comfort care items soothe febrile foreheads and can lessen the pain of a headache.
  2. Heating Pads – There are few things more uncomfortable than the chills that can accompany flu-like symptoms. Heating pads can provide temporary comfort for kids and grown-ups who can’t get warm no matter how many blankets I heap on them.
  3. Acetaminophen/Ibuprofen for both children and grown-ups – Pediatric forms come in liquid or chewable tablets. I have discovered children have strong preferences on this point – consider keeping both and remember that if the medicine gets spit out it is hard to know how much they actually consumed. Note that for any cases where Coronavirus is suspected, it is advisable to confer with a doctor about whether to use Tylenol rather than Ibuprofen.  
  4. Pedialyte – Pedialyte keeps electrolyte balances in check and helps to avoid dehydration or just being uncomfortably parched. This comes in many forms and can also be turned into ice pops, which can be soothing.
  5. Measuring Cups & Spoons – I always keep a store of measuring cups and spoons for accurate dosing. There are few things more frustrating than having the right bottle of medicine, but not the best way to measure and dispense contents.
  6. Thermometer – I always check to be sure that the thermometer in my medicine cabinet works. I recommend a forehead reading thermometer as this is easiest to use and most accurate. For infants, rectal thermometers are the best so be sure to have Vaseline to ease the reading. I do not recommend ear thermometers because if the ear is hot from infection, say, the reading may be inaccurate. Similarly, oral thermometers may have their readings skewed by recent ingestion of hot or cold liquids.
  7. Nasal Bulb – I always keep a nasal bulb so that I can help a young child clear congestion before they can blow their nose (make sure to clean and disinfect with each use).
  8. Saline Rinse – Saline rinse enables rinsing of eyes and nose and helps keep everything moving.
  9. Humidifier – I keep a humidifier ready to go to ease with congestion.
  10. Buckets – I keep buckets around for an upset stomach. Although nausea does not always accompany flu, when defenses are down there are a lot of germs flying around. Sick people can’t always make it to the bathroom and easing this anxiety (especially present in children) by providing a basin to contain vomit is a good plan.

Remaining healthy during a season of sickness is rooted in good practices. Nothing replaces a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and hygiene. Wash your hands. Do not touch your face. But giants do fall and when this happens it is important to ensure that an affected family has all the comfort care they need while they rest and recover.

Setting up a Give InKind page is a great way to coordinate efforts for a loved one that you’d like to keep close at home. Set a schedule for meal delivery and grocery drop-offs or pharmacy runs. Offer to place Amazon or Postmates orders as needed. Leaving items with a loving note on the doorstep helps keep everyone healthy and slows the spread of germs.

Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.

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