New Year, new ways to care for health and environment

2020, or “the year that must not be named,” was many things. But one of the most significant aspects about it is it was the year health was prioritized (COVID-19) and our impact on the environment was magnified (pandemic, natural disasters).

Pharmacies ran out of vitamins and health supplements, personal protective equipment usually worn by medical workers has become Everyman’s essential, and lives and livelihoods were used to pay for our collective environmental neglect. 

BE PREPARED. As temperature drops every year, a medical expert recommends stocking up on over-the-counter medicines that relieve symptoms of cold weather illnesses.
As we all left the year that tested our mettle, we can now fortify our wellbeing and do our part for our surroundings. We collected a few tips and ways to care for our health and our environment this 2021. 

Keep stock of cold season medicines

Chilly weather kicked off 2021, with Baguio’s temperature dropping to 12 degrees Celsius and Metro Manila to 23 degrees Celsius in January. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) expects the “sweater weather” to persist until February due to surges of northeast monsoon or amihan. 

The drop in temperature also means more chances of getting a runny nose, catching a cold, or developing a cough, according to an expert from Makati Medical Center. Hence, aside from a strong immune system, a “well-equipped” medicine cabinet is vital when flu-like symptoms kick in. 

“During this time, see to it that you have over-the-counter medicines to relieve you from the usual symptoms like fever, colds, cough, sore throat, and diarrhea that come with these illnesses,” says Jose Sanchez, MD, MakatiMed’s General Medicine section chief

Dr. Sanchez says the must-have essentials in every medicine cabinet at home include ibuprofen and acetaminophen, decongestants and antihistamines, expectorants and cough suppressants, and loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate. 

“To manage the pain and bring down a fever, you need to have paracetamol and ibuprofen,” says Dr. Sanchez. “If you have children at home, it’s important that you also have pediatric non-aspirin product on hand.”

Meanwhile, symptoms that go with allergic rhinitis and flu like stuffy, runny noses and itchy, watery eyes are uncomfortable and interfere with sleep. “Decongestants and antihistamines can help reduce the severity of these symptoms so you can get rest and go about your day-to-day activities.”

Having two kinds of cough medicine is likewise vital to get proper relief. “Expectorants are for productive cough that helps bring up the mucus, while cough suppressants can help quiet down a dry cough,” explains Dr. Sanchez.

When diarrhea occurs due to food and water contamination, loperamide, the expert says, “can help you have more formed stools,” while bismuth subsalicylate “can keep bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea from spreading in your stomach and intestines.” 

Dr. Sanchez also suggests including mosquito repellant lotion in medicine cabinet. He also says to include throat lozenges and nose spray for relief from inflamed nasal passages in mild symptoms. Those constantly blowing their nose can apply petroleum jelly to prevent skin irritation. 

A thermometer should also be on hand to help monitor body temperature.

While there are medicines to relieve pain, discomfort, and other symptoms of cold season illnesses, Dr. Sanchez stresses that it’s important to consult with a physician if a person still feels unwell over a period of time. 

Topics: New Year , health and environment , Makati Medical Center
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