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StockYour Home Pharmacy with These OTC Medications

In addition to any RX medications you may take, these are a number of over-the-counter (OTC) medications that you’ll want to have stored away in case an emergency were to arise. Just be aware to rotate out your supplies to keep your medical stock from going out of date. 

You pharmacy stores should include pain relievers, antihistamines, anti-diarrheal, antiemetics, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and allergy medications.

Plan for the Unique Needs of Family Members

Before stocking your prepper medicine cabinet, sit down and carefully evaluate the unique needs of each member of your family. Consider the following questions.

  • Does anyone in your family have allergies to any medications?
  • Do you need to store infant or child formulations of drugs?
  • Does anyone have special needs due to a chronic medical condition?
  • Does anyone suffer from seasonal allergies?
  • Does anyone have an issue with pain management?

Stock appropriately for the individuals who will be using the medications. Remember your supply is for your everyday needs, not just for an emergency.

Ideal Storage Conditions for Medication

Generally, medication will store best in a cool, dry, dark location in the original unopened packaging. The bathroom medicine cabinet is not the best place to store your meds due to the heat and humidity. Store all medication out of reach of children.

Drug addiction is a real concern in our society. Some addicts are easy to identify but others you may never suspect. Consider storing prescription medication in a locked safe or well-hidden location to protect both the drug seeker as well as your critical medications.

Actual Shelf-Life of Medication

It is always best to keep a stock of fresh medications. However, it may be important to understand the actual shelf life in the event you need to make a decision to use older medications during a crisis.

You should expect a gradual loss in potency over time for OTC medication. If the appearance and color of the pills have not changed the medication is likely safe to consume. Storage temperature and packaging will significantly affect the actual shelf life. Liquid preparations are not as stable as tablets and capsules and generally have a shorter, useable shelf-life.

Best Over-the-Counter Medications to Stockpile

It is easy and relatively inexpensive to stock your prepper medicine cabinet with useful over-the-counter medications. Carefully consider the needs of your family members and include the meds that you regularly use. This is the list of medications that we keep in our stash. Yours may be a bit different.

Pain Relievers:

  1. Aspirin: Aspirin is not only a fever and headache reducer, but it also reduces toothaches, swelling, and muscles that might be aching. 
  2. Tylenol:  Tylenol is similar to aspirin in taking care of most pain or discomfort. You can even grind it into a powder and rub it on irritated skin for relief. Make sure you use the recommended dosing.
  3. Aleve: Aleve will rid you of most aches and pains and also help reduce fevers and headaches. It even works on menstrual cramps and arthritis. While it might be similar to the previous two pain relievers, it lasts much longer. 
  4. Advil: While it might work better on headaches, Advil is believed to work more effectively on pain, fever, and inflammation. You do not want to use any medicines past their expiration date.
  5. Excedrin: Excedrin works great on migraines and tension headaches, along with reducing fevers and colds. It even works on nasal congestion. 
  6. Orajel:  After a crisis happens, taking a trip to the dentist might not even be an option. Orajel is a numbing medication that will help reduce toothaches, minor gum irritation and also helps with sore throats and canker sores. 
  7. Midol: Midol, Pamprin or something similar is good to have in stock as well. It is great for helping with muscle aches and pains, bloating associated with mensuration.
  8. AZO Urinary Pain Relief. While this will not cure a UTI – you need antibiotics for that – it will provide you with relief for pain, burning and urgency.


  1. Allegra: This relieves all the classic allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, and so forth.
  2. Benadryl: This antihistamine is sort of a wonder drug. It treats all sorts of things including coughing, itching, rashes, runny nose, sneezing, and other allergy symptoms. It’s also great for helping people fall asleep.
  3. Claritin : This also treats allergy and cold symptoms like coughing and sneezing, but it doesn’t make you drowsy. Many people find it to be more effective than Benadryl.
  4. Zyrtec: Everyone reacts a little differently to allergy medication, so find out what works best for you and stock that.

Cold and Flu

  1. Dayquil: My favorite thing for cold symptoms such as congestion, cough, headache, and sore throat. However, it won’t stop a runny nose. For that, you’ll need an antihistamine such as Benadryl.
  2. Mucinex DM: This is great for the kind of colds that cause lots of coughing and chest congestion. Drink plenty of water with it.
  3. Nyquil: This does a good job relieving cold and flu symptoms. However, many people complain about having a “Nyquil hangover” the next day. It’s not as bad as an alcohol hangover, but you’ll feel very tired.
  4. Robitussin: This is just like Mucinex DM minus the Dextromethorphan (cough suppressant). If your only problem is chest mucus, this is what you want to take.
  5. Sudafed PE: This is just like Dayquil minus the Dextromethorphan, which is a cough suppressant. If all you have is sinus pressure and pain, then this is what you need.
  6. Whiskey, Honey & Lemon: Obviously not an OTC, however, this home remedy seems to work just as well if not better than the OTC medications. A shot of whiskey, with one tablespoon of honey and a dozen drops or more of lemon juice.
  7. Vicks vapor rub: Technically this is an OTC, but the application we are going to tell you about is a home remedy. This works particularly well on children, but it will also work on adults whose feet aren’t calloused. Slather Vicks on the bottom of the foot, put socks to keep the rub where it is supposed to be and the coughing stops. Usually works best when the person is not up and walking around – so apply at bedtime.

Skin Itching / Wounds

  1. Aspercreme : This will treat itching, sunburns, and other minor burns. Some people say it even helps with hemorrhoids and sore muscles. It works is by targeting pain receptors and numbing the skin and tissue.
  2. Cortizone 10: Hydrocortisone cream works wonders for itching, and it’s good for eczema and psoriasis.
  3. Lotrimin: This cream treats itching associated with bacteria such as jock itch, athelete’s foot, and yeast infections.
  4. Technu: In our opinion, there is nothing better for treating Poison Oak or Poison Ivy than Technu products. They offer a wash to get the oils off of you and itch relief products.
  5. Triple Antibiotic Ointment: Neosporin, Bacitracin or Polysporin are just some of the brand names. Everyone should have this in their stock to prepare for a catastrophe. If you’re suffering from a minor burn, wound, or cut, Neosporin will help keep bacteria from causing infections. 

Digestive Upset

  1. Alka-Seltzer: This is a combination of citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and a little bit of aspirin. It’s great for indigestion, stomach aches, and even head or body aches, especially after eating or drinking too much.
  2. Dulcolax: These cause bad stomach pain and a very unpleasant bowel movement, but that’s the whole idea. If you’re constipated, these will get you going again. Just make sure you stay close to the bathroom after you take it.
  3. Imodium: Disasters can be stressful, and if you’re also eating food you don’t normally eat, you might become constipated or you could end up with the opposite problem: diarrhea, for that you need Imodium. It’s important to take care of this quickly because you don’t want to get dehydrated.
  4. Milk of Magnesia:: This is both an antacid and a laxative. It reduces stomach acid, but it also draws water into the intestines, helping relieve constipation.
  5. Prilosec, Rolaids, Tums: You want to be sure you have something for heartburn. If you are a more frequent suffer of heartburn than Prilosec or something similar.
  6. Gas-X: This product is used to relieve symptoms of extra gas such as belching, bloating, and feelings of pressure/discomfort in the stomach/gut. Simethicone helps break up gas bubbles in the gut.


  1. Activated Charcoal: This is worth stockpiling because of its ability to absorb poisons and remove them from the body. It can also treat gas, diarrhea, indigestion, and can even whiten your teeth.
  2. Dramamine: This is the best thing for dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Just be warned that it can make you very sleepy. There’s also a non-drowsy kind made of meclizine.
  3. Epsom Salt: – This is usually used in baths. So why is it on this list? Because Epsom salt can treat sore muscles, soothe headaches, heal sprains and bruises, alleviate tension, and reduce inflammation. It can also be used as a laxative.
  4. Potassium Iodide Tablets: If there were ever a radiation emergency, potassium iodide tablets would help the thyroid from taking on radioactive iodine. 
  5. Electrolytes: During a crisis situation, you want to ensure your body is getting all the electrolytes needed for your body to function properly. 
  6. QuikClot: You never know when you’re going to need something to stop significant bleeding. QuikClot or something like it might just very well save your life.
  7. Multivitamins: Although not an over-the-counter medication, multivitamins will make sure you’re body is getting the right nutrients and minerals needed when you’re probably not eating the most nutritious food after an emergency.
  8. Gloves: Granted medical gloves are not an OTC medication but they are always good to have on hand (pun intended).

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, the information here is not meant to be medical advice, and many of the statements above have not been approved by the FDA. I’m just sharing my opinion. I encourage you to do your own research and talk to your doctor to make sure you’re not allergic to any of these medications and to make sure they won’t interfere with any other medications you’re taking.

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