Let’s get right down to business. WTSHTF there will be no time to plan things out. There are no apps to give you notice for this event, so those who are prepared will be ready. Can TSHTF? And when will this happen? Obviously, no one knows and for God’s sake, we all hope that this day never comes. This is not fear-mongering; rather, a calculated risk that even the most conservative consider possible and someday inevitable. This thought was enough to motivate an old-school Primary Care Doc like me to do something!
During my residency training years in New York and Hartford CT, my teachers would use a classic pearl during rounds: “Common things are common, so when you hear hoofbeats, think of horses not zebras”.
Let’s talk about horses. WTSHTF you better have the basics covered – that includes a supply of medications for common medical issues. Next, you better understand how to use them. From infectious diseases to deadly systemic reactions – you will need to be prepared. Flu to systemic allergic reactions, I will discuss common, yet potentially deadly medical conditions and Top 7 Medicines that can protect you from getting sick WTSHTF.
Starting from the crown. A common cold, AKA- upper respiratory infection can lead to bacterial bronchitis, which can end up as a deadly bacterial pneumonia. The flu can kill rapidly as it can lead to a viral pneumonia and overwhelm the immune system via a “cytokine storm”. Pneumonia is a common lung illness and rates are greatest in children younger than five and adults older than 75. Anyone with heart or lung disease is at greater risk for pneumonia. The best protection against pneumonia is to get vaccinated if you are at risk and to receive early and appropriate medical treatment. Treating the flu with anti-viral medication within 48 hours in addition to treating a bad cold that has led to a bacterial bronchitis at the appropriate time can be truly live saving events. If in fact you end up with a pneumonia, you BETTER have a broad spectrum respiratory antibiotic at your fingertips!
WTSHTF and you or your honey are bumbling around the basement trying to secure the necessities to hunker down and suddenly discover that in all the chaos, you have a significant laceration on your lower leg. This simple cut can lead to a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis and over only a few days can lead to serious trouble. This type of infection is seen every day in walk-in clinics throughout the United States and in most circumstances, does not pose any threat because of early and appropriate antibiotic treatment. First-line treatment for cellulitis is usually a beta-lactam antibiotic called a cephalosporin. Having the right type of anti-biotic is crucial and can definitely make the difference between life and death. Having a medication on hand based on a personal history with an expert Internist who understands and has experience with treating common medical conditions that can hurt you is key. From true drug allergies to a thorough history of your medical conditions and even details regarding, if and how long you were hospitalized in the past are very important factors in deciding exactly what antibiotic you will need to treat this and other specific medical conditions WTSHTF. Remember, we are still talking horses. These are very common medical conditions that can lead to death if not treated appropriately and EARLY.
If TSHTF and you find yourself in a region that has infectious agents that can cause diarrhea, you better have anti-diarrheal and anti-biotic medications on-hand and understand when and how to use them. Educating people on this is quite simple- when talking to an experience Internist. Doctors at Travel Clinic’s around the world have been giving “travelers” prophylactic anti-biotics for potentially dangerous diarrhea for years. Why wouldn’t you have these live saving medicines in your armamentarium for WTSHTF? Again, having spent time reviewing your medical history, medications and drug allergies with an expert physician and having a personal supply of PERSONALIZED medications on hand, PRIOR to interfacing with any serious illness, is going to be your best chance of surviving WTSHTF.
Are you or someone you love prone to urinary tract infections-UTIs? A simple UTI can be very uncomfortable and is easy to treat with a course of an appropriate anti-biotic. If not treated properly simple UTIs can lead to a bacterial infection of the kidney called Pyelonephritis. If this is not treated aggressively in the early stages, it may have to be treated in a hospital setting with intravenous broad spectrum anti-biotics. When these bacterial infections of the kidney or even an aggressive UTI are not treated appropriately and early they can lead to Uro-Sepsis. An overwhelming bacterial infection in the blood that can be deadly in many cases. Again, treating a simple UTI early with a specific anti-biotic regimen, based on your past medical and allergy history will be crucial to saving your live WTSHTF.
Anyone who has asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease-COPD knows that even a simple cold can be a nightmare. Treatment regimens for these conditions will require being prepared with anti-biotics in addition to rescue inhalers and in many instances a course of corticosteroids- Prednisone will be required. I regularly provide my patients with enough of these medications, so that if they are unable to get to the pharmacy or to see another doctor, they have enough of these lifesaving medications to get through for at least a week.
In the end, there are many medical issues that can arise when you are off the grid and WTSHTF. From a severe case of poison ivy to a skin rash of unknown cause or any systemic reaction to an allergen, having a medication called Prednisone on hand can make the difference between having a better quality of life to saving your life.
Medical conditions that you will need a Rx:
- Upper respiratory infections– bacterial bronchitis and pneumonia that can lead to sepsis and will require an anti-biotic.
- Flu– can be deadly and can lead to life-threatening pneumonia. Early treatment with an ant-viral will be required.
- Skin infections from cuts, animal/snake bites or any break of the skin that is worsening – cellulitis will require an anti-biotic.
- Severe skin reactions like poison ivy that need a local or systemic corticosteroid (Prednisone)
- Severe diarrhea that requires an antibiotic – traveler’s diarrhea and bacterial food poisoning.
- Urinary tract infections– can lead to kidney infection and uro-sepsis will require an anti-biotic.
- Respiratory emergencies, e.g., asthma attacks and COPD that require a rescue inhaler and possible systemic corticosteroids
- Systemic Allergic reactions of any type that will require a corticosteroid (Prednisone)
- Respiratory infection –personal antibiotic, rescue inhaler and systemic corticosteroid
- Flu – Tamiflu Rx
- Skin infection –personal antibiotic
- Skin rashes, contact dermatitis –Potent topical corticosteroid Rx and Prednisone
- Prednisone –multipurpose lifesaving medication for many emergency medical situations
- Traveler’s diarrhea antibiotic – personal antibiotic
- Urinary Tract Infection –personal antibiotic
- Systemic Allergic reaction –prednisone and Epi-pen
The 7 medications for WTSHTF are based on a personal review with an expert physician and will cover:
- Anti-biotic for a common bacterial bronchitis or community acquired pneumonia. Azithromycin would be a good example for someone without an allergy to this medication . A full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
- Medicine for Flu. Typically, Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is used. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
- Medicine for a Broad Spectrum anti-biotic for severe pneumonia, urinary tract infection, skin infection or gastrointestinal bacterial infection. Levaquin (Levofloxacin) is a great lifesaving anti-biotic for these medical situations. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
- Medicine for a simple urinary tract infection or simple skin infection-cellulitis. Keflex (Cephalexin) and Bactrim (Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim) are 2 classic anti-biotics used regally for these medical conditions. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
- Rescue inhaler – a bronchodilator called Albuterol comes in a hand-held inhaler ready to use on the spot. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
- Epinephrine Auto-Injector called EpiPen is a must for any medical allergic emergency. Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
- Taper dose of oral glucocorticoid steroid called Prednisone. This is one the most important and universal lifesaving medication known to man! Again, a full medical history and list of medications, including allergies to medications is mandatory.
To summarize this article: There are a limited number of common medical issues that can lead to varying degrees of illness and death, if not treated early. Understanding these conditions and having these medications ON HAND BEFORE WTSHTF can definitely save your life! No one would argue this, so see an expert physician before WTSHTF.