Things to Keep in the Medicine Cabinet
Aging Matters

It could be a no-brainer for you on what items to keep in a medicine cabinet, but if you wonder what medical professionals keep handy, here's what I learned. Since getting older, my list of items changed from less make-up and fragrances to lots of cures for dry skin, wrinkles, brown spots, antihistamines and red eyes. Of course, there are the usual band-aids and hygiene products.

In the event that a real emergency should happen, I want a live doctor around, but for simple, everyday concerns, I will settle for a physician-like crisis supply. So, what do doctors and nurses keep in the bathroom cabinet? Here's what I came up with and the reasons why:

Items to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet

  • Bacitracin to apply on cuts, burns or scratches in the skin
  • Ibuprofen for pain and inflammation
  • An antihistamine to treat allergies
  • Over the counter nasal spray• Band-Aids
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Alcohol and disinfectant wipes
  • Crackable cold packs
  • Cortisone cream for skin irritation
  • Generic eye drops for itchy, watery eyes

Aging and Medicines

The FDA says it's important to know about the drugs you consume to avoid potential problems. As a person ages, the more health conditions develop. With that, one needs more prescription pills, and polypharmacy can be a big problem. So, pay attention to what you put on your skin and in the body because the various medicines and over-the-counter drugs and remedies can increase your chances of unwanted or maybe even harmful drug interactions.

The body changes with age, and as it does, so do the effects of medications. For example, your digestive system plays a significant role in how quickly the drug enters the bloodstream. Your body weight will also influence the amount of dosage one needs to take and how long it stays in the body. If the circulation system slows down, that directly affects how quickly the meds enter the liver and kidneys. The two organs work slowly breaking down the drug and eliminating it from the body.

Because of the changes due to age, you stand a higher danger of drug interactions. The interaction can cause one drug not to work sufficiently, or make one stronger than it should be. Here is a list of drug-related warnings:

Drug Related Warnings

  • Adverse drug and health (condition) interaction for example, if an individual has high blood pressure by inhaling a nasal decongestant could induce an interaction.
  • Harmful food and drug interactions could be the result of eating certain foods and drinks. For example, some foods in the digestive system can affect how the drug is absorbed.
  • Adverse effects when mixing medications with alcohol. For instance, mixing alcohol with some drugs may cause you to feel tired and slow your reactions.

If you have questions about mixing over-the-counter drugs with prescription medications you currently take, consult with your doctor and pharmacist.

Carol Marak is the editor at She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the University of CA, Davis. Contact Carol at

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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