15 Over the Counter Medications Preppers Need to Stock

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.

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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.

28 thoughts on “15 Over the Counter Medications Preppers Need to Stock”

  1. Gatorade should only be used if you are sweating a lot. Gatorade contains the salt electrolyte that you lose (sweat) during HIGH intensity exercise/activity. There is no medical evidence that Gatorade is better than water for the purpose of hydrating.

    1. Oral rehydration with cautious use of electrolytes is beneficial in cases of vomiting and diarrhea where fluids + electrolytes are lost.

      1. Salt substitute, which is potassium chloride, can be used in place of Gatorade for dehydration. If you mix potassium chloride with Kool-Aid you get Gatorade (Just do a taste test to prove it). Gatorade does have high salt levels and sugar content so if you are on a low salt diet Gatorade is bad for you! In fact, the American Heart Association recommends Gatorade only be used by professional athletes with over an hour of exertion and foundry workers or people in similar occupations with excessive sweating. In a SHTF scenario where salt may be a rare commodity, Gatorade would be a great source for that needed salt, just don’t drink more than about 1 per day.

  2. Admn, great list, but as we all know…our lists are only a start and never complete. I think I would substitute the rehydration for pain meds and some of the Cillins. Fish Mox is not my idea of being able to use/dose easily. Pain meds for when we need to set a broken bone, deep lacerations, amputations. The movies show someone chugging down a bottle of Whiskey, but I’m not sure that would work in reality. Great idea on some of the things I need to add to my bags though.

  3. You can make your own Gatorade and instead of adding water add it to a fruit drink of your choice. No use spending extra money for those fancy drinks.

    1. Good point, John. Honey should be part of everyone’s preps. It is very nutritious, lasts forever, and is also an excellent wound dressing with its antibacterial properties and its ability to speed healing.

      1. in many areas of the world honey is used internally for many reasons (cough and stomach problems and others). externally for cuts (it is claimed to have antibacterial properties), mixed with moss or spiderwebs it was used for packing large cuts. for info, go to Medical Uses For Honey. there are many books available on the subject

      2. the BEST way to get bulk honey (5gal.=60lb.) is to find a commercial beekeeper and purchase 5gal. from her or him. some sell honey at the best price available. How To Find A Supplier: National Honey Board.com, Click Honey Locator, Click State. honey locator has map of states. when state is clicked, the list shows name, email, phone number and other info. Dont get MELTER HONEY. this is honey that is left in the wax. the wax is melted at over 160 degrees which separates the wax from the HOT honey. this cooked honey is then sold to some bakers. this will be the cheapest honey but may not be the best for long term storage. All honey will get hard in the container. to restore to a liquid it must be slowly heated until it is liquid. a good way to liquify honey is to open the container, put into warm water, about 120 deg. and remove after it is TOTALY melted. if any honey is un melted, will re granulate quicker. do not microwave honey.

        1. A lot of honey now comes in plastic containers. I transfer it into pint size Mason jars for a few reasons. Honey crystalizes faster when exposed to air, so having more smaller jars means only having a small amount crystalize at a time. It’s easier to heat in a glass jar, as plastic tends to warp when heated and the chemicals in plastic are released when heated. Also many plastics get brittle with age.

          1. LONG TIME BEEKEEPER/COMMERCIAL POLLINATOR. long time honey vender at farmers markets. if the plastic container has the triangle with # 1 in the center of the triangle and PETE under it, then it is food grade plastic and is safe to use. their are several other types of food grade markings but this is the only one that i have seen being used for honey sales. properly heated,115-120 degrees, not microwaved,the plastic will not be hot enough to distort or off gas. that is the reason for food grade plastic. the two main reasons that honey granulates, gets hard or turns to sugar are #1 ALL honey will granulate with time. some varities (flavors) will take much longer than others. most of the store bought honey is flash heated to about 160 degrees and quickly cooled and then blended to get the standard color and taste. this also gives the honey a longer shelf life. this is generally much longer than unheated (130 degree or more). and @2 large temp. fluctuetions. the best way to store honey is to keep it at room temp. honey heated at too high of a temp may darken with the heating. honey may be stored in glass, plastic, ceramic, wood, stone and baskets. metal containers are NOT recommended for long term storage. if the opportunity to taste honey virities comes along, you will discover that like wine, every honey has its own flavor, nose and color

  4. A good list and happy to say I have them all plus a few more. I would add Epsom salts, cheap and multiple uses. I would also recommend a short primer on herbal medicine for the longer term.

  5. I’m a Christian prepper, middle-aged, and I would not suggest anybody taking most of the over the counter drugs listed above unless they are in excruciating pain, the analgesics anyway.

  6. Not medications but apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and you can’t forget oral hygiene and pain relievers. The most effective I have found for toothaches is a small vial from the Red Cross called Toothache, it’s a strong pure clove extract. You can also buy temporary fillings from the dollar store. Witch hazel is another, tea tree oil kills all sorts of fungus and ring worm, and Camphophenique works well for cold sores and ring worm too. That’s just a few that are in my medicine cabinet.

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