Over the counter medications are well worth stocking. Many of them were originally prescription medications and some still are but in larger strengths. Most preppers are on a budget, so take advantage of coupons and store sales to stock up. Keep in mind that all medications should be stored in cool, dark, and dry locations to maximize their effectiveness.
These over the counter medications can be used to treat many conditions including: headache, fever, sore throats, dehydration, ear ache, menstrual cramps, heartburn, arthritis, ulcers, diarrhea, allergies, hives, congestion, dizziness, mild anxiety, nausea, vomiting, poison ivy, athlete’s foot, ringworm, eczema, insomnia, backache, gout, diaper rash, yeast infections, and many more common illnesses.
I recommend that you keep an eye on the OTC meds most commonly used in your household and stock up on those first. If you come across a bargain on one OTC or another but your family would rarely use it, buy it anyway. Family health conditions change and it might come in handy for barter. Also, go ahead and buy disolving tablets and liquid forms of the medications you use most often, if you have kids or grandkids.
Also highly recommended is a dependable medical reference book to guide you with medicine choices, side effects, and dosage amounts. The last thing you will need in a crisis is for a loved one, or yourself, to have a severe reaction due to a OTC medicine. The Pill Book is a reliable reference book, and I favor this book for information about medical care when there is no doctor available and you have to be your family’s medic.
15 Over the counter medications
1. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
Ibuprofen can be used to treat pain and inflammation, including headaches, earaches, sore throats, sinus pain, stiff neck, muscle strains, menstrual cramps, arthritis and back pain. It is useful for reducing fevers, but is not good for most stomach pains.
2. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Acetaminophen is used for many of the same conditions as Ibuprofen, however it will not reduce inflammation. It can be rotated on a 3-hour basis with Ibuprofen when pain is severe. Combined with ibuprofen it will work similar to codeine to reduce more severe pain. This should only be done on the advice of a Doctor.
3. Aspirin, 325mg
In addition to Ibuprofen and acetaminophen you should stock Aspirin. Aspirin has been used since the late 19th century as a pain-reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory. However it also has the ability to thin blood. So it can be used to treat people who need anti-coagulants or have heart problems. Read this article, How Aspirin and Willow Bark are Similar, for more information.
4. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
An inexpensive antihistamine, diphenhydramine is primarily used for drainage due to respiratory infections and nasal allergies, in both adults and children. It is also indicated for allergies, hives and itching, including itchy rashes such as poison ivy. This will make some people sleepy.
5. Loratadine (Claritin, Alavert)
This is an antihistamine that is useful for treating allergies. It does not make people sleepy. Stock dissolving tablets for children and the elderly.
6. Loperamide (Imodium)
A very effective over the counter medication for diarrhea. It has been said that a single Imodium, throw into a swimming pool, could turn the water to cement, but this is not true! Stock it in both adult and children’s strengths.
7. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
Pseudoephedrine is effective at relieving congestion in both the upper and lower respiratory tract due to infections, allergies, chemical irritations, and mild asthma or bronchitis. Not recommended for children under 6.
8. Meclizine (Bonine, Dramamine)
This antiemetic drug is available in both over the counter medications and by prescription. It relieves nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, and vertigo-like dizziness. I use the over the counter form for vertigo and it helps.
9. Ranitidine (Zantac) Omeprazole 20-40mg (Prilosec) Cimetidine 200-800mg (Tagamet)
All of these over the counter medications are available for the treatment of heartburn, ulcers, and other acid-reducing conditions. Ranitidine is inexpensive and well tolerated. If you find yourself experiencing stomach pains from prolonged use of a pain reliever, these medicines can help protect your stomach.
10. Hydrocortisone cream
The 1% version of hydrocortisone is the strongest over the counter steroid cream available. It is safe for use in both adults and children in treating inflamed and/or itchy rashes such as eczema, poison ivy, diaper rash, and other minor genital irritations.
11. Triple Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin, Bacitracin, Bactroban)
Triple antibiotic ointment is normally applied at the site of injuries to prevent infections. It should be noted that triple antibiotic ointment won’t cure a deep infections.
12. Clotrimazole (Lotrimin), Miconazole (Monistat)
These antifungal medications can be used to treat Athlete’s feet (tinea pedis), vaginal infections (monilia), ringworm , and jock itch (tinea cruris).
13. Mucinex (Also known as Glyceryl Guaiacolate or formerly Guaifenesin)
This is a drug, which reduces the thickness of mucus secretions. In respiratory infections it helps your body to expel phlegm. It is available in liquid or tablet form.
14. Calamine lotion
This is useful for the treatment of poison ivy or oak. These conditions may become much more common after a disaster, due to spending more time outdoors.
15. Gatorade powder
While this would not normally be listed with over the counter medications, it can be effective for rehydration.
The above over the counter medications will let you treat many different conditions and not cost you an arm and a leg. Watch the sales and buy generics whenever you can. Remember I am not a doctor and am not giving you medical advice, use these medications as directed on the packaging or as advised by your doctor.
This article updated by Noah, 11/27/16.