The medicines to stock up on before Christmas


By Rita Ghelani

There are lots of bugs circulating at this time of the year, when many of us are busy shopping for presents, planning get-togethers and holiday travel.

Here is a list of the essential medicines to stock in your cabinet so that you are well prepared for dealing with common minor ailments over the Christmas holiday period:

Cold and flu remedies

There is no medicine to help cure a cold or flu. But there are medicines available to help relieve the symptoms. Many of these are a combination of a painkiller and a decongestant, for example, Lemsip and Beechams both contain paracetamol and phenylephrine.

Always read the label for the active ingredients in a cold and flu products. If you are taking more than one medication, double-check that they don’t contain the same active ingredient.

Ask your pharmacist to recommend one that would be most suitable for you.

Steam inhalation is one of the best ways to help relieve the symptoms of a stuffy nose. Keep a bottle of Olbas oil in the cabinet. Add a few drops of Olbas oil to a bowl of hot water and lean over it with a towel over your head. Inhale the steam a few minutes to help clear the mucus from the nose.

Cough remedies

Keep a bottle of cough syrup that is suitable for either dry or chesty coughs. Try Unicough oral solution or Bronchostop cough syrup. Both of these are suitable for all types of coughs.

Diarrhoea remedies

Christmas is the most annoying time for tummy troubles. So keep a packet of anti-diarrhoea capsules containing loperamide (Imodium) and oral rehydration sachets (Dioralyte) in your medicine cabinet. Rehydration sachets help to replenish lost salts and sugars, as well as restoring and maintaining lost fluids after having diarrhoea.

Indigestion remedies

You’re likely to be eating and drinking more over the Christmas period and you could find yourself with indigestion. So keep some antacid tablets or liquid in your medicine cabinet. These will help relieve the symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and trapped wind.

If heartburn is the main symptom that is not relieved by an antacid medicine such as Gaviscon or Rennie, then ask your pharmacist for a medicine to help reduce the acid produced in the stomach, such as Zantac 75 relief tablets or Nexium control.


Painkillers work in different ways to relieve pain. Aspirin and ibuprofen work well for pain that is associated with swelling and inflammation of muscles or joints, whereas paracetamol works better for reducing fever.

So it is a good idea to stock a selection of different painkillers in your cabinet – soluble aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Soluble aspirin (300mg) is also useful to have in the cabinet as it can be used for a sore throat. Gargling with soluble aspirin can take away the sting.

Hangover remedies

Soluble paracetamol is a good choice to treat the headache associated with hangover.

Taking a herbal remedy containing milk thistle and an effervescent vitamin supplement such as Berocca can also help.

A first aid kit

Keep a well-prepared first aid kit, just in case you need to treat minor cuts, sprains or burns. Things to have in your first aid kit include plasters, small bandages, a thermometer, antiseptic cream and wipes.

Remember this is just a general guide and you should always ask your pharmacist if you are unsure about which is the best product for your needs.

If you’re on long-term medication or have a chronic condition, it’s best that you pick up your prescriptions in plenty of time before Christmas, as your regular pharmacy and surgery may be closed for a few days over the holiday period.


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