Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by Johna Jenkins, a nurse practitioner, and the co-founder of our sister brand A Plan for Health.
When you or a family member is sick, the last thing you want to do is dig through your medicine cabinet for essential supplies. Creating an illness kit for your home helps you prepare for those unexpected moments of illness!
Today I”m going to walk you through the illness kit everyone needs at home. You’ll likely have a lot of these items on hand already. By gathering them all in one spot, you’ll feel more prepared! Preparation helps us act quickly and provides us one less thing to worry about.
We suggest putting together this illness kit as part of cleaning out your medicine cabinet. Get rid of old medications, make a list of anything you’re missing, and gather all your supplies in one spot.
These are the items that will come in handy if you come down with any of the current common illnesses: COVID, Upper Respiratory Infections, GI bugs. Most importantly, if you feel unwell, reach out to your medical provider for guidance on how to treat your illness. Upper respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal bugs tend to strike quickly and unexpectedly.
Here are the items you need for the illness kit everyone needs at home!
- Thermometer: Always great to have on hand
- Pain Relievers: This could include Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. If you also choose to add Nyquil or Dayquil, be aware that they also contain Acetaminophen, so be careful not to overdose or take additional Acetaminophen on top of that. As for aspirin, do not use this in children under 16 years old.
- Saline Nasal Spray: Make sure this is sterile when you purchase it. Also, when you are over this illness (or within a few days), you will want to dispose of the spray bottle as it would be harboring those germs you just fought off!
- Salt: This comes in handy for warm saltwater gargles when you have a sore throat.
- Throat Drops: There are a plethora of choices here. Personally, I like the Vitamin C and elderberry drops. Note: do not give cough drops to small children, as these can be a choking hazard for them.
- Lemon tea bags and honey: These are wonderful for soothing a scratchy sore throat. Note: do not give honey to children under one year old, as there is a risk of botulism.
- Disposable toothbrush: You’ll need a new toothbrush, once you are done with your illness. Did you know that with strep throat, you should change your toothbrush after being on an antibiotic for 24 hours? Many people reinfect themselves with strep because they miss this step.
- Tissues: Personal preference — lotion, Vicks infused, plain. Get something soft so you don’t end up with an even more chapped nose from rough tissues.
- Decongestant: These work great, BUT this is tricky — you should most definitely ask your medical provider before taking a decongestant because SO many things can interfere with it, even aside from high blood pressure such as other medications (both prescription and over the counter), and many illnesses such as glaucoma, enlarged prostates, bladder issues, heart issues, etc. This also goes for children as well — ask your medical provider.
- Medication Tracker Notepad: I keep an extra Medications Tracker Notepad with our illness kit. This helps me keep track of medications and dosages when someone in our family is sick.
- Hand Sanitizer: So you hopefully cut down the risk of giving it to others in your home.
- Vicks Vaporub: grandma’s secret weapon, no?
- Facemask(s): a staple in every home right now. Keep an extra one in your kit in case all of your washable ones are dirty.
- Pedialyte Powder Sticks: just add water! Gatorade may taste better but these have less sugar.
- Pepto-Bismol: As with any medication, ask your doctor before using it. While this helps relieve an upset stomach and sometimes diarrhea, it also has a select set of people whom it would be contraindicated in.
- Chapstick: Buy bulk and keep the extras in the medicine cabinet so everyone can find them.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: Dilute with a carrier oil if you use it on the skin. Ask an essential oils guide if you are unsure about how to use it!
I hope this list helps you gather and prepare an illness kit for your family! You can find a spot in your medicine cabinet to store all these items together. Or grab a cute bin or basket to corral it all. Voila! You now have the illness kit everyone needs at home.