As a parent, there’s nothing worse than taking your sick child to see a doctor only to be sent home and told to return in a few days if he or she gets worse (which usually happens).We have health insurance, but a visit to the doctor is still money out of the family budget that could be used elsewhere.
Two visits for the same illness is especially painful.
As a nurse, I often teach parents of children to keep a small supply of over-the-counter medications to help cut back on calls to the doctor and trips to the ER in the middle of the night.
The same goes for adults. If you keep a few staples on hand, you’ll end up saving money in the long run.
Here are four things that will help you cut back on costs during an illness:
**Of course, you should clear all medications and procedures with your doctor or pediatrician.**
4 Essential Medical Items
1. Advil AND Tylenol
You can alternate the two medications every hour to help control a high fever. In most cases, a low- to mid-grade fever is actually helpful in fighting off whatever is making you sick, so only treat temperatures above 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use a good old fashioned glass thermometer unless you want to invest in the latest temperature-taking device. Digital thermometers that cost less than $10 are often unreliable and inaccurate.
2. Boric Acid Powder
This inexpensive powder can be used to treat a variety of infections without a prescription (and without antibiotics). For example, you can fill an empty gelatin capsule with approximately 600 mg of boric acid powder and insert it vaginally to cure most yeast or bacterial infections.
The cost of the powder and gel caps will run about $15 while the average over-the-counter yeast infection treatment is $12-20. Boric acid can also be mixed with sterile water to serve as an infection-fighting soak for burns. It will also treat stubborn athlete’s foot and severe acne breakouts.
Benadryl, which can be used to treat allergic reactions, is a must-have for all medicine kits. If someone develops hives or swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat, give them Benadryl (liquid works fastest) and get them to the ER.
It can also be used to safely treat mild insomnia (in kids and adults), relieve pressure from colds and flu, treat seasonal allergies, and dry up ear drainage — which can relieve the pressure of an earache until you can get to the doctor.
4. Saline Nasal Rinse
Yes, it’s unpleasant to think about rinsing your sinuses, but doctors and allergy specialists often swear by daily sinus rinsing to help control allergy symptoms. It also helps relieve cold symptoms faster and keeps a simple bug from developing into an all-out sinus infection, ear infection, or respiratory infection.
There are sinus rinsing devices available for kids and adults, and the Nettie squeeze bottle is easy enough for a child to use, with supervision.
Always use your best judgment to decide when to seek medical care. While it’s OK to treat colds and minor illnesses at home, serious conditions can quickly develop (especially in children and infants). Go with your gut instinct.
If you think something isn’t right and are worried, call a doctor. But for many common health problems, treating symptoms at home can help you save a bundle.
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.