What follows is a list of over the counter medications that no home, and certainly no prepper should ever be without. Please remember that children should not be given aspirin in any form as it can cause Reyes Syndrome. This is rare but devastating condition that can occur in children after they have had a disease causing virus such as chickenpox. Aspirin greatly increases the chances of a child suffering from Reyes and it should therefore be avoided for kids.
Also remember that un-named supermarket own brands have exactly the same active ingredients and are a fraction of the price of branded drugs.
Always check with a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription drugs as interactions with OTC medications can and do occur.
Finally don’t buy into the hype. A pain killing tablet cannot, under any circumstances ‘target’ pain. Claims by manufacturers to the contrary are out and out lies. The tablet is taken, dissolves in your gut and disperses, there is nothing in it that allows it to a) know where your pain in and b) make the decision to travel to that area and target that particular pain.
- Acetaminophen (UK paracetamol) In the US the standard tablet contains 325mg of the drug, in the UK each tablet contains 500mg of the drug. Used as a general painkiller for headaches, muscle pain etc. Be aware that many OTC medications contain the same active ingredient and can put you over the limits for safe dosage. A large overdose rarely causes immediate death but 5-7 days after the overdose your liver starts to fail. The decline continues until a liver transplant or death are the only options on the table. Slow overdose occurs when liver damage is sustained from continual daily use for conditions such as arthritis. The ultimate outcome is the same. Liquid versions of the drug are available to treat children.
- Ibuprofen is a NAISD, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is typically available in 200mg and 400mg tablets. It is better for controlling chronic pain such as arthritis than Acetaminophen. Continued daily use can increase the risk of heart attack and strokes so taking the smallest dose that cures your pain is advisable. It can damage the stomach lining if taken routinely.It should not be used during pregnancy in particular during the last trimester and should only be given to children under two in the form of a suspension which has a lower mg/kg dose than other preparations. Available in a rub on gel form for spot treatment of muscle pain. The gel counts as part of the total daily amount of the drug even though it isn’t taken orally.
- Aspirin should NEVER be used if you have ANY kind of bleeding disorder such as haemophilia, thrombocytopenia or stomach ulcers. As stated above Aspirin should never be given to children. Aspirin is an effective pain reliever and also has the added benefit of slightly thinning the blood and therefore reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack in susceptible individuals. Best avoided during pregnancy as it can cause bleeding in the placenta in rare instances. It is very cheap to buy and can be used, dispersed in water as a mouth since to relieve oral pain. It’s available in many dose sizes from 75mg to 300mg. Best taken with or after food as it can cause gut lining irritation.
- Laxatives: There are too many to mention and although they are not something I would generally recommend in times when a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and veg is not available they could have a use. Chose something with a gentle overnight action. Stocking up on more natural products like canned prunes would also solve the problem.
- Konjac root is often marketed under the name glucomannan and is being hailed as the latest ‘slimming aid’. In reality this naturally occurring root is an excellent source of soluble fibre and as such can keep the digestive system working properly adding easily digestible fibre to the diet. It does soak up water and capsules should be used with care but they are easy to pull apart making the contents easily available in juice (that should be drunk immediately before it starts to thicken). It can be brought in granular form in some areas. Having a supply of glucomannan is in my opinion better than stocking up on laxatives.
- Tyrozets are a lozenge that contains benzocaine to numb sore throats. They are relatively cheap and very effective as well as having the benefit that they can be used by children over the age of 3. There are many other products on the market that have small amounts of local anaesthetic in them but personally I think these are the best due to their effectiveness and the lower age range that can use them
- Antihistamines.These are useful for dealing with allergies such as hay fever and insect bites. Available as topical creams and as tablets there are dozens out there to chose from. Try and get a selection of the newer non-drowsy types and the older drugs that do cause drowsiness. Why ? I hear you ask. Well children will often suffer disturbed sleep when they have something irritating them the causes drowsiness version will help them settle off to sleep. Also the older drugs are more suitable for younger children as in many cases as the new generation are often aimed at kids over 12 and adults. Have both topical and tablet form if possible. Calamine lotion is an old but effective fix to stop the irritation from bites and rashes caused by poison ivy and poison oak. Many people report the lotion is far more effective than the cream.
- Rehydration salts. again there are many on the market. Useful for any situation that causes dehydration. They can be used in combination with anti-diarrheal drugs.
- Anti-Diarrheal drugs need no explanation. Stick to the dosage instructions and be aware that diarrhoea is the body way of expelling toxins such as the bacteria in the gut caused by food poisoning. Locking these bugs in your system isn’t always the best thing to do in my opinion, drinking plenty of water and letting the bacteria out of the body is often the best method for getting over ‘stomach flu’. These drugs to have a place in the medicine cabinet if used on the rare occasion where your stomach has reacted badly to a food, a curry for example, where the ingredients haven’t suited you rather than have given you food poisoning. Do not give to young children.
- Antacids are another one that has so many preparations it would take an age to list them. They are available in liquid and lozenge form and are worthwhile having for occasional use to deal with this quite painful but rarely dangerous condition.
- Topical burn ointment has its place but personally I prefer mustard or sugar as my first go to treatment. Aloe vera gel is also useful for taking the heat out of burns as is natural yogurt.
- Eucalyptus oil is an excellent decongestant and preferable to commercial decongestant tablets that dry mucus rather than encouraging it to leave the body. Commercial preparations are available that contain eucalyptus and other beneficial oils.
You may find these articles of use, all deal with various low-tech medical fixes.
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