A Dozen OTC Medications No Prepper Should Be Without


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Take care


15 thoughts on “A Dozen OTC Medications No Prepper Should Be Without”

  1. Acetaminophen is toxic to your liver. Every time you take it, it kills a little bit of you liver. Ice packs, alcohol rubs, and letting the fever run its course are preferable. Try Ibuprofen or aspirin for as an analgesic. All the pain relief and none of the liver toxicity.

    1. Morning Krush,

      There isn’t a drug that doesn’t affect the body in some way, these are chemicals, un-natural substances and that applies to ALL of them. Paracetamol, Acetaminophen has its place particularly amongst those who can’t take aspirin and ibuprofen, and many people can’t.

      No drug should be taken lightly but taken in moderation and in accordance with medical instruction AND bearing in mind any sensitivities to the drug and co-existing morbidities I stand by the advice given.

      “Every time you take it, it kills a little bit of you liver”. This drug has been around for a long time and there isn’t a single person in the literature that has ended up with a dysfunctional/dead liver from taking it on an occasional basis, as prescribed.

      In an ideal world we would take no drugs at all, sadly the world is not ideal.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment


  2. Having “essential thrombocythemia”, aspirin is a basic treatment. It not only slightly thins the blood, but also causes the platelets produced during the dosage period to be less sticky, thereby reducing risk of stroke.

    1. Hi vocal patriot.

      I think you are possibly confusing thrombocytopaenia with something else such as thrombosis where a clot forms because the blood becomes viscous and sticky. Aspirin would certainly be used for that condition.

      I disagree totally with you saying aspirin should be used for thrombocytopenia as it causes a massive drop in platelets that causes profound bleeding into the skin, even relatively minor knock can cause a bruise that contains a huge amount of blood, enough to cause a hospital admission. I have never heard of essential therombocytopaenia, idiopathic immune thrombocytopenia is the usual term used.

      The lack of platelets means blood does not clot readily, adding aspirin to the condition can actually cause someone to bleed to death internally because as you said aspirin thins the blood.

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and to comment.
      Take care

    2. As an EMT, I can equivocally tell you that Aspirin doesn’t thin the blood at all. That is a myth. I simply keeps the platelets in the blood from aggregating.

      1. Krush

        Yes, I know, I also know the mechanism that makes that happen. However, so many people are told by the doctors and hospitals after a DVT for example…”aspirin thins the blood” that rather than get into the science it is better to issue reminders without going too deep.

        RE thrombocytopenia aspirin shouldn’t be taken nor should anyone with other clotting disorders take it. Stomach ulcers, duodenal bleeding et al also prelude the use of aspirin.

        Clinical pharmacology is, as I’m sure you know a very in-depth and complicated subject and without much effort several pages could be written about any drug. Most people would have yawned and moved on before the end of the first paragraph. In addition scientific language and in depth knowledge of anatomy and how these drugs work isn’t something people learn in high school. We each have our specialty and we need to be mindful of what makes sense to us doesn’t mean it makes sense to everyone else.

        Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


  3. “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.”

    REALLY??? ok zoolander…oy

  4. Liz

    Let me beat a dead horse here. If you’re on prescription meds, check with your pharmacist before selecting OTC drugs. There could be an interaction between the prescribed drug and the OTC one. There could also be a problem with the OTC drug affecting your condition.

    I have high blood pressure and must avoid all decongestants since they’ll cause my heart to race. What can I say other than old age sucks.


    1. Hiya KK,

      I couldn’t agree more. All of the links, which lead to more information state as much but yes, you’re right I should have put it on….Off to make adjustments.

      Thanks for pointing it out, sometimes I forget because it’s such a natural thing for me.

      Thanks for your continued support x


      1. Only meant it for those readers who are new to having to take prescription meds and as a reminder for us long time users. Sometimes you just forget and grab something without thinking.


        1. KK
          I know you did but they may not have read the comments lol.

          Chill, we all forget stuff, like I forgot that lol

          Thanks again

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