I think since my aging mom lives some distance from me, I have made it a habit to seasonally do an over the counter medication inventory. I do my best to keep what I call the staples stocked and up to date. These include things like something for an upset stomach, anti-diarrhea medication, fever reducer, cough suppressant/expectorant, throat lozenges (mom prefers horehounds), and a nasal decongestant. I also check her prescribed medication for the nebulizer medication and the distilled water for the humidifier to be sure neither are outdated as well. I will also be sure there is a good supply of tissue, anti-bacterial wipes and spray. I personally shun away from antibacterial hand sanitizers, opting for good hand-washing technique.
Because getting to the store is another challenge for mom, and if you think of it, is the last thing you desire to do when you come down with a cold/flu, a well stocked pantry/freezer is also a good idea. My go to staple is always chicken soup. I prefer homemade so I try to keep a couple containers of it in the freezer. I also have on hand a few low sodium cans of chicken noodle soup as a backup. Tea is another kitchen staple to have on hand. I feel in love with Yogi Cold Season tea a couple years ago. Because it is a blended herbal tea, if you are under a doctor's care or take prescription medication it is advisable to check with your practitioner before using. A supply of alkaline water and ginger ale is also good tool in your survival kit.
Remember medications only aid in helping you FEEL less miserable. What is required if you do catch a cold or flu is plenty of rest and keeping hydrated. If you suspect you do have a cold or flu...STAY HOME. I realize misery loves company but it is not fair to needlessly share germs.
Colds can last for up to 14 days but you should be feeling somewhat better after 7 days. If you have any chronic illness, your symptoms persist beyond 14 days or you are experiencing any of the following that over the counter medications do not seem to improve it is best to seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.
- fever of 101°F or higher for more than 24 hours
- fever accompanied by a rash, severe headaches, confusion, severe back or abdominal pain, or painful urination
- coughing or sneezing mucus that is green, brown, or bloody
- tender and painful sinuses
- white or yellow spots in your throat
- severe headaches with blurred vision, dizziness, and/or nausea or vomiting
- pain or discharge from your ears
- persistent pain in the abdomen
- profuse sweating, shaking, or chills
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing or difficulty swallowing...I would suggest calling 911 for immediate assistance.
Colds will come and go but being prepared when they occur will make the course much easier. And always, if you are a senior, have any chronic health challenges, work in the healthcare environment or if recommended by your physician, get your annual flu shot. The shot may not prevent you 100% from getting the flu but the course is less severe. The way I see it, even if the shot is 30% effective that makes the odds better than having no protection at all.