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7 Essential Medicines to Keep at Home

Whether you’ve returned from a vacation or your weekly grocery run, sickness and injuries can happen at any time. As the world still grapples with COVID-19 and its aftereffects, research shows that increased isolation and self-distancing have compromised our immune system’s ability to guard itself even against the common seasonal flu.

Essential Medicines

To better protect yourself and find immediate relief for easily treatable ailments, having a first-aid kit with essential medications is crucial. Being prepared for whatever is coming your way is never a bad thing, especially when a pharmacy is not easily accessible to you. Here’s what to stock up on when you’re making your essential medicine kit.


To ease pain, lower fever, and deal with body pain, acetaminophen (or paracetamol outside the U.S.) is your go-to medication. It is available in both tablet and liquid form. It is safe for consumption and doesn’t require a medical prescription. Taking too much at once can cause vomiting, stomach aches, and malaise, so be sure to follow the dosage instructions and consult with your doctor for drug interactions.

Checking the right dose for an individual, whether they’re an adult or a child, is essential to prevent negative side effects.


While acetaminophen is a generic painkiller, it is not always the best to use for specific types of pain, including period pain. Medication like ibuprofen can be brought without a prescription and is ideal for period pain, aching muscles, and even sprains.

If you are someone who is suffering from a stomach ulcer, high blood pressure, asthma, among other conditions, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are not recommended. If you are pregnant, please check with your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medication. Most anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen should not be taken on an empty stomach, and if you are currently prescribed other medication, please check with your physician before consuming.


Feeling abdominal pain for no reason? Suffering from indigestion or heartburn can happen at any time, especially when you’ve eaten something that can’t be easily processed by your digestive system. Heartburn can feel like a burning sensation that goes up your throat.

Taking an antacid can help ease the pain you’re feeling, and give immediate relief for heartburn. You can find different types of antacids available at most pharmacies, which can include:

  • Magnesium hydroxide
  • Magnesium trisilicate
  • Aluminum

These antacids mainly work by neutralizing acid in the stomach. It’s best to consume antacids along with food or immediately after. Dosage can vary, so check the label instructions before consuming.


Spring and summer are peak months for allergies and hay fever to spike, and that can bring a wealth of uncomfortable symptoms that last for weeks. Whether your hay fever is manifesting itself through hives, itchiness, or a runny nose, antihistamines are ideal to resolve them.

Antihistamines are also great to reduce swelling and pain caused by bee or wasp stings. Before you buy an antihistamine, it would be best to check the possible side effects. Many antihistamines can cause drowsiness and are best when taken before bed. Be aware that it is not safe to drive after you’ve taken an antihistamine that is known to cause drowsiness.

While antihistamines are commonly available in tablet form, you can also find them as topical creams that can be applied directly to stings or itchy areas.

Nasal Decongestants

Suffering from a blocked nose can be frustrating, especially when it’s accompanied by headaches or fever. Taking a nasal decongestant can help clear up your nose, and aid in breathing properly through the nose.

Essential Medicines

You will find that most nasal decongestants use pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine to prevent excess mucus from accumulating. It would be best not to take too much of this medication, as it has been shown to interrupt sleeping patterns.

If your congestion is in your chest or is partnered with a cough, look for OTC medications that contain an expectorant like guaifenesin.

Antiseptic Cream

If you have a child in your house, an antiseptic cream is an essential that you must never go without. Minor scrapes and cuts are normal for everyone, whether it’s because you’ve slipped or knocked into something, but children are especially prone to cuts and scrapes as they play and explore.

Antiseptic cream is ideal to prevent bacteria from infecting the wound. However, if you think the wound is particularly deep, or the cause of injury is steel or metal, you will need to visit a hospital.

Hydrocortisone Cream

Nothing works to reduce inflammation like hydrocortisone cream does. It is a low-dose steroidal cream that works on dermatitis and eczema. You can also use it for insect bites and psoriasis. You will find these with a maximum of 1% hydrocortisone over the counter. There is a stronger version called hydrocortisone butyrate that is only available with a prescription.

Unless your healthcare provider has recommended it, do not use this cream on children younger than 10 years. Be aware that it can make existing skin conditions like acne worsen, and even lead to breakouts.

Know What Your Household Needs

If you’re looking to stock up on other essentials, consider buying oral rehydration salts, as these come in especially handy for diarrhea, high fevers, and dehydration cases. While having a clean and hygienic home is the best way to prevent diseases, you still have to prepare for when the unexpected happens. Once you have these essentials, you definitely won’t need to worry about making an emergency pharmacy store run.

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