Stocking Stuffers for a Belated Christmas

Book cover from children;s novel, Christmas Ho...

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Sorry about the delay . . . I fell off Santa’s sleigh

1.  Primatene Mist Wonder about treating an asthma or severe allergy attack if no doctor is around?  It’s amazing that this epinephrine inhaler is available over the counter.  But it may not be much longer.  After December 31, 2011 it will not be sold in it’s current form, although the manufacturer hopes to have it’s new chlorofluorocarbon-free version available by then.  Although doctors never recommend this inhaler for asthma due to side-effects of increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and short duration of action, still, if nothing else is available, it does open the airways during an acute asthma attack.  Though I have never used it for an acute allergic or anaphylactic reaction such as to a bee sting, theoretically it should be effective, but should probably be used along with an antihistamine, such as Benadryl (similar to the EpiPen).  (Primatene Mist, $21.99 online)

2.  Compound W Freeze OffWhat about treating skin cancer at TEOTWAWKI?  Although indicated for wart removal, the over-the-counter freezing kits could also be used for treatment of pre-cancerous and certain cancerous skin lesions (not melanoma).   Dermatologists freeze pre-cancerous lesions and superficial skin cancers daily, killing them with a localized frostbite that then allows new tissue to regenerate from beneath.  Although cauterizing or excising such lesions also works, at TEOTWAWKI freezing them is probably a more reasonable alternative for the layman, and requires no anesthesia.   (In drugstores and online for $18.99-25.00)

3.  Suture Tutor – Repairing a minor skin laceration is no more complicated than sewing a dress (and much easier than installing a zipper or collar!)  The Self-Directed Skills Lab – Suture Tutor, available for purchase online will show you how, and includes practice equipment and artificial skin to suture.  A bit pricy at $142.10 (at, it’s still a lot less expensive than professional instruction would be. 

4.  Dentemp Maximum Strength Temporary Filling MixWhat will you do if your filling falls out and there’s no dentist to call?  Before the cavity fills up with food and debris, patch it yourself using this OTC zinc oxide/eugenol mix.  Of course, eventually you’ll need a longer-term answer, but for $4.85 you can save yourself a toothache, at least for awhile.  The zinc oxide fills the hole (or cements a loose cap to a tooth), while the eugenol (oil of clove) relieves tooth nerve pain.  (Eugenol is irritating to the gums, however, and should be confined to inside the tooth.)

5.  101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care – a book near and dear to my heart, it even features green and red Christmas colors!  But beyond that, the book offers practical advice on treating: respiratory infections, pink eye, sore throats, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, urinary infections, allergies, arthritis, acne, hemorrhoids, dermatitis, skin infection, lacerations, lice, carpal tunnel syndrome, warts, mental illness, asthma, COPD, depression, diabetes, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and much more. Only $13 retail, available online for under $10.

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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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One Response to Stocking Stuffers for a Belated Christmas

  1. Tim says:

    According to Armstrong Pharmaceuticals who makes Primatene Mist the product will be available until Dec 31, 2011 not 2010.
    It is being banned due to its CFC propellant not the active ingredient. They are working on a replacement propellant.

    I use this product occasionally and highly recommend it for anyone that suffers bronchial restrictions in breathing.

    * * *
    [Thank you, Tim, for correcting the date of 12/31/2010. I have amended the above article accordingly . . . not quite sure where I got the 2010 date. Whereas I do think it’s advisable to obtain an emergency supply of Primatene, it still is not considered as safe as albuterol, the mainstay of acute bronchial constriction, which does require a prescription. – Doc Cindy]

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