Tiny's First-Aid and Medicine-Box Essentials! (Part 1)
Hello! Before I get into this month’s blog post, I need to apologise for the lack of new content last month. I’d like to say I was working on something busy and important, but honestly I just couldn’t think of anything to write about, so I didn’t write anything at all! Hopefully this month’s post will make up for it, as I think many of you will find it a more interesting topic than usual. I am going to be sharing a list of first-aid and medicine-drawer essentials that I think every home should have! I thought you might find it fun to note down some of the items you haven’t got and put together a wellness kit for times of illness, aches, and minor injuries.
On that note, I suppose I had better begin with my usual disclaimer and even add a bit to it.
Please note that I am not a doctor and nothing in this blog post is intended to constitute medical advice. In the case of illness or injury, always consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner or a trained First Aider. In a medical emergency, call the emergency services.
Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin! There are dozens of items and ingredients I could include, but I am going to share items that I would personally feel vulnerable without. It isn’t necessarily that I use them often, but I like to have them on hand in case anyone in the house should need them. Because my mum is a herbalist, I do have immediate access to a wide range of items that most people would not be able to get, so I will only share products and ingredients that are available to everyone. As Tiny Pioneer is mainly visited by people with interstitial cystitis or other pelvic pain conditions, I will also keep bladder health and bladder suitability in mind!
Let’s start with the most obvious items.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. Everyone gets a random headache from time to time and most women will have had period pain at least a few times in their life. If you’re reaching for painkillers every few days, you must seek out medical advice and take steps to address the root cause of the pain; however, for out-of-the-blue occasional pain there is no reason to be a martyr and suffer! I might be an enthusiastic advocate of complementary therapies, but I’m still more than happy to take a couple of painkillers if the need arises!
All the items you get in official first-aid boxes like plasters, sterile dressings, bandages and tweezers. You can either buy them separately and keep them in a box of your own, or just buy a ready-made first-aid kit to start you off. I always think it’s handy to add blister plasters (they really are better for blisters than normal plasters!), compression bandages, and Micropore™ to your kit too. Compression bandages are sometimes referred to as Tubigrip – they’re like stretchy fabric tubes that you can put over knees, ankles, elbows and wrists if you get minor joint aches or sprains. I used to work in a pub and sometimes after a long shift I’d get achy knees and would use Tubigrip to give them some support. It makes a big difference! Micropore is like sticky tape for your skin and is used to stick down dressings or bandage ends.
An eye bath and some sterile solution in case you get something in your eye that needs rinsing out.
Tissues. Incredibly, I have met more than one adult that does not routinely keep tissues in the house. Even if you generally use toilet roll or kitchen roll to do the job of tissues, I highly recommend you get a box of the real thing to have around in case you should ever get a cold. They are much softer on the nose.
A hot water bottle, in case of minor aches and pains that are relieved by warmth.
A couple of ice packs or freezer blocks, in case of minor injuries and pains that are relieved by cold. Never put an ice pack or freezer block directly against the skin – it can stick or burn. Always wrap it in a tea towel or similar cloth.
A thermometer, because if you’re unwell and suspect you have a fever, is it helpful to know for sure! Unless a fever is dangerously high, I am personally of the opinion that it is better to assist the body in keeping warm and not try to force it down. A high temperature is an important part of the body’s defence mechanism when fighting pathogens and unless it is becoming dangerous, I think it is wise to allow it to run its course. By the way, did you know that the part where you feel cold and shivery is usually when the temperature is rising, but once you feel hot and sweaty the fever is breaking? I always find that so fascinating!
Here is one for those of you prone to urinary tract infections: a box of antibiotics. Online pharmacies will prescribe these for you, meaning you can keep a box at home just in case. They won’t do it too often so you can’t (and shouldn’t try to) use it in place of GP prescribed antibiotics. However, anyone who is prone to UTIs will know the horror of starting with one at weekend or out of GP hours. Having a box of antibiotics on standby for such occasions gives great peace of mind. Always see your GP as soon as you can so that your urine can be tested and more official treatment can be arranged.
Sticking with the bladder theme for a moment, another must-have item for me is Waterfall D-Mannose. I don’t think this is necessarily a first-aid essential for women who have never had a UTI, or for the majority of men; however for women who have had more than a couple of UTIs in the past, I think it is a good thing to have on hand. I personally take this D-Mannose twice daily as part of my normal regime, but people who have never had recurring UTIs and have only been afflicted occasionally will probably prefer to store it as a ‘just in case’ item.
Bicarbonate of soda is another medical essential for me. I virtually never use it, but I feel reassured knowing I have it in the house. It is handy for relieving the burning pain of cystitis when mixed with water and lemon juice, as in this very early blog post of mine. Do note that it is not a cure – it provides symptomatic relief only. Some people swear by bicarbonate of soda as a mouthwash or an ingredient of homemade toothpaste, although I have never used it in this way. In the past it has been used as a remedy for colds and flu, but since the outbreak of a more modern virus the information about this seems to have been removed from wherever I last found it. However, you can see this article for details and I also mention it briefly in this blog post. If you add this item to your home, be sure to buy bicarbonate of soda and not baking powder – they are not exactly the same thing!
Fresh lemons. Besides their use as mentioned above, lemon juice is also great for sore throats and it is antimicrobial so it provides more than just symptomatic relief. I always incorporate a squeezed lemon into proceedings if I feel like I’m starting with a cold! Lemon juice can also stimulate digestion – I used to drink lemon water in the morning when I was first recovering from IBS and often felt ‘bilious’. I know some people drink it every morning as standard, but unless they rinse with bicarbonate of soda afterwards I honestly don’t know how their teeth stand it! Incidentally, who began the oft-repeated myth that lemons are not safe for people with interstitial cystitis? I have no idea why so many articles propagate the idea, but lemons are absolutely fine for many people with IC. Yes, I know they aggravate some people’s bladders, but almost every food triggers a flare in someone. Unless you know that lemons definitely trigger your symptoms, there is no reason to fear them. I know they’re acidic at the point of ingestion, but they actually alkalise the urine.
Raw Manuka honey. This is very good for sore throats, especially with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. It is also quite effective for relieving tickly coughs and does not leave the same tacky feeling in the throat as normal throat lozenges and cough drops. Manuka honey has been studied as a topical treatment for leg ulcers with very good results and can also be used on general minor wounds. I have personally never tried it topically, but I do always have a pot in the house to take at the first sign of a cold or sore throat. Get one with an official UMF rating – the higher the rating, the higher the antimicrobial properties. It is expensive, but it does not spoil. It does have to be raw and it does have to be Manuka – normal honey won’t do!
Raw apple cider vinegar. At the first sign of a cold or sore throat, I mix one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar with four to six tablespoons of warm water and a teaspoon of Manuka honey. It is very effective and is surprisingly more pleasant than you might imagine. It took me years to get around to trying this remedy, but it has helped me to swerve a few colds now! It’s not something I am able to repeat more than a couple of times for a couple of days, or else I get stomach ulcer type pains. However, as with lemon juice, I know there are people who swear by drinking diluted apple cider vinegar on a daily basis. Other than using it for sore throats and colds, the only other thing I do with my apple cider vinegar is put it on my evening meal in place of regular vinegar! (In case you’ve never tried it and are wondering, it tastes of neither apples nor cider, but does taste like a softer version of ordinary vinegar.) I also occasionally use it for cleaning purposes, as it has antimicrobial properties. As with lemon juice, there are people who swear by drinking diluted apple cider vinegar on a daily basis. Also as with lemon juice, an astonishing number of IC patients seem to believe that apple cider vinegar is irritating to the bladder. Again, there will always be some anomalous person; however, for many IC sufferers apple cider vinegar is not only safe, but can actually be helpful. Just like lemon juice, it has an alkalising effect on the urine and it is also antibacterial and antifungal. It does have to be raw and unpasteurised, and it does have to be apple cider vinegar!
This is turning into a longer post than I expected, so I am going to split it into two parts. I will end Part 1 here and you can join me again in Part 2 where I will talk about a varied assortment of other medicine-box and first-aid essentials!
See you there,
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