Get your medicine cabinet fighting fit for winter

Stock up on medicines and stay a step ahead of the winter bug.

Most of us will have a cold this winter, and some of us will have the flu, so it’s important to be well-prepared in case these viruses attack. With the right self-care these illnesses can be managed quickly and effectively, and in most cases a trip to the GP would prove unnecessary. You may however want to visit your local pharmacy, where you can get advice on which over-the-counter medicines to buy.

Even a minor illness such as a cold, headache or diarrhoea, can disrupt your daily routine. Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home is a great way to manage the impact such an illness will have on you and your family.

Key medicines to stock up on over the winter period include:

–          Painkillers e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin – used for colds, reducing aches, pains and high temperatures. Note: aspirin is not to be given to children under the age of 16

–          Decongestants – these can help ease the symptoms of a blocked or stuffy nose (nasal congestion) and are available as nasal sprays, tablets, liquids or flavoured powders to dissolve in water

–          Oral rehydration salts – fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals which can lead to dehydration. Oral rehydration salts can help restore your body’s natural balance of minerals and fluid, and relieve discomfort and fatigue. Note: they don’t fight the underlying cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria

–          Anti-diarrhoea tablets – diarrhoea can be caused by a range of things and can happen without warning, so it’s a good idea to keep anti-diarrhoea medicine at home. The most common is loperamide (sold under the names Imodium, Arret and Diasorb, among others). Note: anti-diarrhoeals are not to be given to children under 12 as this may have undesirable side effects. Speak to your pharmacist or GP for advice if your child has these symptoms.

Whilst all medicines should include instructions on how to take them, don’t forget that your local pharmacist, where appropriate, can give advice on how and when to take medicines. Instead of booking an appointment with your GP, you can see your local pharmacist anytime – just walk in!

Dr Fiona Butler Chair of West London Clinical Commissioning Group said: “As we approach the festive period it is important to keep your house well-stocked with medicine as the likelihood of catching a cold or flu increases. This will save a panicked trip to your local pharmacy and allow you the best chance of keeping on top of your daily routine whilst taking care of yourself or your family.”


Read more about coping with colds and flu here.