School is just a few weeks away and for many incoming college freshmen, it will be the first time they’re away from their parents, which means Dr. Mom won’t be on call for all their aches, bruises, and illnesses. Dr. Emily Wilson from the Arkansas Pharmacists Association is here to tell us about what you need to be sending with your student this fall so that they’ll have a happy and healthy first semester.
Parents are buying new school clothes, school supplies, let’s talk about what parents should be buying to send with their students for their medicine cabinet.
Having a college medicine kit is an essential part of your student’s dorm room not only for minor things like scrapes or cuts but for things that can knock you out a little more like a cold or an upset stomach. For most students, this is the first time Dr. Mom isn’t going to be around to take care of them, which can certainly worsen any illness. Dorms are a breeding ground for germs so it’s best to be prepared for anything that could come along, but it’s also important to go over everything in the kit with your child. For many students, this will be the first time they are going to be making decisions about medicine without their parents around so it’s important for them to know what to take in a particular situation.
Let’s start with the head.
Some common maladies involving the head are going to be the common cold, allergies, sore throat, and headaches. Let’s start with Benadryl, which is great for if your student suffers from allergies – sneezing, runny nose, itching, coughing. One thing to remember to pass along to your student is that Benadryl can cause drowsiness so they certainly shouldn’t be taking Benadryl and driving. Also, Robitussin DM for breaking up chest congestion and suppressing coughs so you can get some sleep. Again, this is a pretty powerful decongestant so you want to make sure you’re not going to be driving after taking this. Also, a bottle of ibuprofen for headaches and body aches is a vital part of any medicine kit. And speaking of pain relievers, an important thing to remember is that you never want to mix acetaminophen (Tylenol) and alcohol. That combination can lead to some pretty serious liver damage, and it’s not something that many people know about, but it’s certainly something that any college student should know.
Let’s move on to the upset stomach.
Your student is going to be eating in the cafeteria a lot their first semester and all that unfamiliar food could lead to some gastrointestinal issues – mostly upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. That’s where Immodium comes in. It will be able to calm your student’s gut and get them back in class.
What about those communal showers? Those just seem like they would be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
You’re right. The floor of the dorm showers is one of the worst places for bacteria and fungus, and it’s the one place where most people walk around barefoot. Make sure you’ve got a pair of flip-flops for your student but if something happens and they do get a case of athlete’s foot, have some Lotrimin to knock it out.
Some other things to make sure you have in your dorm room medicine kit are some Band-aids, Neosporin, aloe lotion for sunburn, tweezers for splinters, a thermometer, and alcohol pads.
What are some other things that parents should talk with their kids about when it comes to medication?
First, you’ll want to go over how your insurance works. Make sure they have an insurance card and that they keep it in a safe place. Go over how to use the insurance to pay for any medicine they might need. Remember, this is all second nature for you, but for a lot of students, this will be their first experience getting a prescription filled or using their insurance card.
Also, if your student has a medication that is filled regularly, make sure to get the prescription transferred to a new pharmacy close to school and ensure that he or she establishes a relationship with their local pharmacist. Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals – it’s important that students realize that and are able to utilize that resource.
Finally, it’s very important to go over the dangers of unprescribed medications. There’s a very popular and very dangerous trend of students trading medications or letting their friends borrow a few pills to get them through finals week, but the truth is those actions can have very serious and very harmful ramifications. So, it’s important to make sure your student knows that he or she should never take medicine that was prescribed to someone else, no matter what the medicine may be.