EveryDay First Aid: Be Your Own Dr. Feelgood
The guns and ammo are the sexy part of everyday carry and always get the most attention. But what about the care and wellness of the person carrying? Your EDC rig can and should double as a first-aid kit. I’m not talking about deadly serious things that require an ER visit (although those of you with anaphylactic allergies should obviously have Epi-Pens on their person at all times). I’m talking about other common scenarios that can put us out of commission or at least alter our situational awareness … like that gas-station sushi, or a broken toe. Here’s how to be your own Dr. Feelgood, every day.
First, a warning: I am not a doctor, and even if I were, I am not your doctor. Even over-the-counter medications can cause reactions and interactions; read the instructions and consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new medication. (Speaking of reading the instructions, the original medicine packaging will always have them. My tip is to use single-dose packets about the size of a wet nap, so those directions will always be there. You can find them in drugstores and on Amazon.)
Common over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin also reduce fevers. These medications work by blocking certain chemicals in the body that are responsible for pain and inflammation. Aspirin may not be as effective for pain as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but it does have the added benefit of serving as a blood thinner. These can be (literal) life-savers in a cardiac emergency. I would recommend keeping the the non-safety coated aspirin, because it can be chewed if or swallowed without liquids if need be in the case of a heart attack.
That said, it is important to stay within the recommended doses found on the packaging! Taking too many pain relievers can damage your filtration organs (liver and kidneys).
Other topical medications to have around include antibiotic ointment, which comes in tiny tubes that fit well in any kit. It’s good to keep something with you to help clean a wound or disinfect an affected area. The first two things that come to mind are alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.
Of the two alcohol is much safer, although it does burn. When you are talking about skin that is already damaged, hydrogen peroxide can actually do more damage than good. It seems like it’s getting all the infection out because it bubbles, but it actually can kill skin that’s healthy. The alcohol prep pads are more convenient than bottles and can be stored everywhere.
Topical pain relief gels like Voltairen or Diclofenac gels are life savers. Recently made over the counter, they are very effective for joint or muscle pain. It is an anti-inflammatory, so anything that is swelling or hurting because of swelling should be helped. Lidocaine is available in creams and patches, but patches especially good because you can put them on an area and it can last for up to 12 hours of pain relief for a specific area.
If you have allergies serious enough to need an Epi-Pen, you probably already know it, and have it on you right now. For those of us without serious known allergies, diphenhydramine (sold as Benadryl) is good to have on hand. There are other antihistamines for sale, but they won’t counter an acute allergic reaction as well as Benadryl. The biggest issue with Benadryl is that it can make you sleepy, so be careful about operating heavy machinery or firearms.
Hydrocortisone (corticosteroid) is a great item to keep with you at all times; it can be used for rashes, allergic reactions, bug bites and pretty much anything on your body that itches. Hydrocortisone is almost always safe to use, but not on open wounds.
The most effective over-the-counter treatment for diarrhea is Imodium (Loperamide). It comes in liquid and tablets. It’s safe for almost all ages and interacts with very few medications. Imodium can be taken as soon as you realize you have a problem. A lot of people keep Pepto-Bismol around for common stomach issues, and you’ll thank yourself for carrying some (promise). Instead of carrying around a big liquid bottle you can get Pepsi in individual does tablet packets.
While we’re talking about stomach issues, gas can be much more than a musical interlude. Gas can cause severe pain even making you think you are dying or having a heart attack. Gas-X tablets with active ingredient Simethicone come in the form of softgels or even chews.
Again, always consult with your pharmacist or physician before taking any over-the-counter medications, especially if you have health conditions. This list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive; obviously, you’ll tailor your everyday first-aid kit to your individual needs. Just remember that the point of everyday carry is to have it and not need it … because needing it and not having it is unthinkable.
–James the “XDMAN” Mr UnPewFessional Himself!
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