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Fighting Illness on a budget

Spending a bunch of money is the last thing you want to do when you’re sick with a cold, flu, sinus infection or mysterious stomach bug. By having a few simple ingredients on hand and shopping wisely, you can save both short-term and long-term.

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Save with Natural Remedies

10 Natural Cold Remedies: These ingredients, from raw garlic to essential oils, all help treat colds as naturally as possible.

Treating Colds with Thyme: Both time and thyme help colds. Use in teas, in baths and eaten raw to make the most of this versatile herb.

9 Frugal Ways to Treat a Cold: Use steam for congestion, salt water for a sore throat and traditional chicken soup to alleviate cold symptoms.

Natural Upset Stomach Relievers: Be it the flu or food poisoning, you’ll be glad you know these tips and ingredients to relieve nausea.

How to Treat Symptoms: From acid reflux to migraines, here are some easy, at-home treatments that can alleviate a variety of symptoms. Just type your symptom in the search box at the top.

Best (and Worst) Foods to Eat While Sick: Whether it’s a cold or stomach symptoms, these eating plans help boost your immune system while avoiding trigger foods.

Save on Doctors Visits

Doctor on Demand: Visit a licensed medical doctor using a webcam or your cell phone video camera. You pay per visit with no subscription fee. This app also sometimes gives free first-time visits

Virtual Doctor Visits: Learn about other apps and programs that allow you to visit a doctor via webcam.

Drug Interactions Checker: Before you take over-the-counter or prescription drugs, you must make sure they do not interact with any prescription medications you already take.

Save on Over-the-Counter Medications

Choosing the Right Cold and Flu Drugs: Select your symptoms and learn about the over-the-counter medications that could help. Consumer reviews of effectiveness are also listed.

Best Drug Store Remedies: Learn which active ingredients treat which symptoms so you can better choose generics to save money.

Advil Coupons: Here’s an example of manufacturer coupons that can save you money when combined with store sales.

Nausea and Vomiting Medications: Learn which active ingredients to look for in over-the-counter medications to treat stomach-related illnesses.

3 Ways to Treat Diarrhea: Along with over-the-counter drugs like loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate, these tips help alleviate diarrhea that lasts less than 4 days.

Save on Prescriptions

Wal-Mart $4 Prescriptions: Check with your local Wal-Mart, Target, grocery stores and other big box chains for these $4 generic prescription drugs.

Good Rx App: Use a map of your town to find where you can get the cheapest prescription drug fill.

Drugs.com Discount Card: You can use this free discount card which may save more on any prescribed medications than your current insurance plan.

How to Save on Treatments for a Cold, Flu, or Other Illness

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait until you’re sick to have some tools and ingredients on hand. Whether it’s over-the-counter medicines or natural remedy approaches, you don’t want to be dragging yourself outside when you’re sick.

Use the following tips and the above links to be prepared.

Stock Up During Sales

One way you can plan ahead is to keep an eye out for sales and coupons. Oftentimes, these deals will be made at the end of a season. Cold medicines, for instance, can go on sale at the end of cold season around April each year. Similarly, allergy and sinus medications typically go on sale once your local allergen season is dying down.

You can also use this approach for tissues, toilet paper, teas and other non-perishable items.

Check Out Manufacturers’ Websites

You can sometimes find coupons for brand name drugs directly on the manufacturer’s website. You may be able to combine these coupons with store sales for maximum savings.

Call or E-Mail Your Doctor

Many medical offices now offer new ways to get treatment from home. You can avoid dragging yourself out of the house and possibly save on a co-pay by calling or e-mailing your doctor. They can advise you if it’s worth coming in, give some home remedy tips, and some may even call in a prescription to your pharmacy free of charge.

Make sure you ask for any signs and symptoms that indicate you should come into the clinic or head to an emergency room.

*NOTE: If you have certain chronic conditions, call your doctor right away. Even a common cold — when combined with conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and emphysema — can lead to serious complications.  Over-the-counter medications can increase these risks in some cases, especially if you’re pregnant.

Natural Remedies

There is a way array of natural remedies that you can use. From a cost-saving measure, you’ll want to stick with ingredients or tools that can multitask.

For instance, thyme can be used to treat congestion and cough associated with the common cold. It can also be used for cooking recipes, teas, breath freshening, and homemade soaps and shampoos.

Always be sure to cross-check natural remedies with any medical conditions or prescription medications you may be on. Sometimes seemingly harmless remedies like herbs and supplements can interact negatively in some people. If you’re unsure, call you doctor or pharmacist.

Get Plenty of Rest and Clear Fluids

Your most cost-effective and reliable technique will simply be to rest and drink fluids. Put off work tasks and chores in favor of quality rest, and you’ll be fully recovered much faster.

Water and tea are also important to stay hydrated, especially if you have a stomach bug that is causing vomiting or diarrhea.

Have a Thermometer on Hand

If you call your doctor with minor illness symptoms, one of the first things they’ll ask for is your temperature. Invest in a digital thermometer so you can avoid unnecessary and potentially costly doctor’s visits.

Save on Prescriptions

Pharmacies at stores like Wal-Mart and Target have a list of medications they fill for $4 or less. These generic medications include equivalents for commonly prescribed antibiotics and other drugs for minor illnesses.

You can also use apps like Good RX to save a percentage on medications that are not on the $4 list near you.

Buy Generic

Store-brand drugs are often significantly cheaper than brand names. Generics are required by law to have the same active ingredient and to work in the same way. They are as also tested to ensure they are equally effective.

Generics are cheaper for both prescription and over-the-counter medications, so make sure to ask your doctor for a generic drug if possible.

Avoid Multi-Symptom Drugs When Possible

A lot of over-the-counter medicines are branded as “multi-symptom cold & flu” or “multi-symptom sinus & allergy.” These drugs contain multiple active ingredients to target a wide range of symptoms. They also usually cost at least a few dollars more than other drugs.

Before you buy a multi-symptom medicine, assess your actual symptoms. If you don’t have all of the symptoms, there’s no sense in paying for all of those active ingredients.

On the other hand, if you do have multiple symptoms, it may be cheaper to get a generic pain reliever plus generic drugs that treat your other symptoms. For instance, you may pick up a generic brand of acetaminophen (which can be saved and used for many other aches and pains in the future), a bag of generic brand cough drops and a generic brand antihistamine. Believe it or not, this approach of buying separately can save money, especially in the long run.

Know What You Have (& When it Expires)

A disorganized medicine cabinet may lead you to buy medicines you already have.

Again, most multi-symptom drugs include a pain reliever like acetaminophen plus treatment for a stuffed nose, a cough, or other symptoms. By having a generic brand of acetaminophen on hand, you can reduce your cost per dose.

Keep in mind that all medications have an expiration date. Every 6 months, you will want to go through and throw away any expired medicines.

Keep a master list in the medicine cabinet that accounts for what you have on hand, and cross off expired or finished medications as you go. Then take a picture of this list with your cell phone or bring it with you to make sure you don’t buy doubles.

Carry Medications with You

People often end up buying duplicates of medicines they have at home because they’re at work or on vacation.  To make it worse, the trial sized medications in tourist areas, airports, or convenience stores are always very expensive per dose.

To avoid this problem and help save money, invest in a small pill container that has a compartment for each day of the week. Then label these containers with permanent marker so each day contains a few doses of a pain reliever, upset stomach medication, allergy reliever, etc. Keep this in your car, purse or desk at work.

Have another pill container dedicated for vacations. Keep it in a purse or carry-on so it’s always nearby when you need it.


About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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