Top 10 Medicines You Should Keep on Hand

Medicines You Should Keep on Hand

Illness can strike at the most unexpected moments. You could be buying coffee at your favorite café when someone sneezes, rubbing your eyes after opening a door, or simply passing someone by on the street who happened to be speaking in your direction. Even frequent hand washing and properly wearing face masks doesn’t prevent the spread of all diseases. The best way to keep safe is by taking preventative measures.

Of course, it’s good to be prepared against other common maladies as well, like cuts, scrapes, allergies, and upset stomachs. You never know when these common medicines will be needed so it’s best to keep them on hand. 

1. Your Prescription Medications

You may think that it goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people run out of their prescribed meds. Sometimes you forget, or you aren’t able to make it to the pharmacy in time for a refill. Life gets busy and that’s okay. Make sure you give yourself ample time to pick up your drugs by calling your pharmacy to fill the prescription at least a week before you are due to take your last pill. 

If your pharmacy and insurance plan allow you to fill three months’ worth of medicine at a time, don’t just grab the one-month supply because it’s cheaper upfront. Stock up on three months of medicine and store them safely, because you never know what life has around the corner. Depending on where you live, there could be a blizzard keeping you trapped inside, or just a hectic schedule driving your kids from one place to another. 

Have Your Meds Delivered to You

An easy way to obtain your prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter meds, is by having them delivered to you. More and more people are shopping for their meds online and having them delivered to them from the comfort of their homes. It’s convenient and usually cheaper. 

The reason medications tend to be more affordable online is because online pharmacies compete with Big Pharma, so their products tend to be less expensive—sometimes vastly cheaper. That said, make sure to use a trusted online pharmacy

2. Aspirin

Aspirin is an ancient medicine, so it has certainly passed the test of time. Aspirin is an effective pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. There is also evidence that suggests aspirin can help prevent heart attacks, which is why many doctors prescribe an aspirin a day. Before putting yourself on a once-a-day aspirin regimen, make sure to consult with your doctor first. Aspirin could interfere with your other medications or cause side effects when used improperly. 

Some common side effects from aspirin over-use are: 

  • Stomach ulcers 
  • Clotting disorders
  • An aspirin allergy

For most people, the occasional use of aspirin is safe and effective. 

3. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen has proven to be a powerful medicine. Ibuprofen helps reduce fever, pain, and inflammation. Because of these three effective qualities, people tend to stick to ibuprofen as their comprehensive pain pill. It’s always recommended to take ibuprofen with a meal because it could irritate the stomach

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, Ibuprofen is especially good for:

  • Toothaches
  • Post-exercise muscle soreness
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Inflammation-based chronic pain

4. Acetaminophen 

Like ibuprofen, acetaminophen is a fever and pain reducer, but it isn’t an anti-inflammatory. Acetaminophen isn’t as hard on your stomach as ibuprofen, but if taken excessively it can be harsh on your liver. For this reason, never go above the recommended dosage. If you have liver problems, consult with your doctor before considering acetaminophen. 

5. Allergy Medication

You may be lucky enough not to have any allergies, but did you know that you can still develop allergies even well into adulthood? The start of spring with all the flowers and pollen may not have bothered you last year, but your body changes as you age. If you’ve moved recently or made changes to your diet, you might be more at risk of developing or discovering a new allergy. For this reason, everyone should have allergy medication in their homes. 

Some popular allergy medications are: 


These come in pill form, nasal spray, and eye drops. In effect, they block the same culprit, histamine. Your immune system produces this chemical when it identifies a foreign contaminant it is not sure is dangerous or not. This causes an allergic reaction. By inducing itchiness, watery eyes, and swelling, your body is trying to rid itself of the contaminant. Antihistamines mitigate these symptoms so you can get back to your day. 


Allergic reactions often cause us to be congested. If an antihistamine alone doesn’t cut it, look for an allergy medicine that includes a decongestant such as pseudoephedrine or oxymetazoline. Like antihistamines, decongestants come in pill, liquid, and nasal spray form. 

Some of the side effects include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Headache

If you suffer from high blood pressure, decongestants are not typically recommended. 

6. Stomach Medicine

An upset stomach is quite common, so keeping the following items in your medicine cabinet makes perfect sense. Stomach aches can be caused by a variety of triggers, like contaminated food, eating too much, indigestion, or a reaction to the food such as lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance. Make sure to keep a remedy on hand that suits your needs. You can use calcium carbonate for heartburn, antacids for indigestion, and omeprazole, esomeprazole, and cimetidine for acid reflux.

7. Bladder Medication

Most people will experience one urinary tract infection (UTI) in their life and women are especially vulnerable to getting UTIs. Children are also prone to it, as well. UTIs can be incredibly uncomfortable so you want to make sure you have something on hand to alleviate your distress. 

Phenazopyridine can be obtained over the counter and takes care of most bladder infections, but for children, you should always check with your doctor about its proper dosage. For stronger infections or for symptoms that last a few days, you’ll want to talk to a doctor. Taking phenazopyridine or another prescribed medicine works much better than chugging cranberry juice, which often has too much sugar to be effective. 

8. Supplies for Cuts, Scrapes, and Burns

No one ever thinks that they will cut or burn themselves, but there are numerous situations that can result in cuts and burns, especially in the case of children. Accidentally grabbing the wrong thing while cooking can leave a painful burn. Make sure to keep the following essentials handy:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide or alcohol wipes for disinfecting
  • Bandages and gauze
  • Petroleum jelly or aloe vera for minor burns

9. Ice Packs and Heat

Whether it’s through an injury or overworking, our bodies can get sore and the best thing to do is apply either heat or cold.

Medicines You Should Keep on Hand

When to Use an Ice Pack

Cold should be applied to an area for acute pain. The reason to tackle pain with cold is because lowering the body temperature constricts blood vessels and helps with swelling and inflammation. It also has a numbing effect you’ve likely experienced. 

And if you feel sore after the gym, icing your muscles immediately after working out can help decrease the swelling caused by excess blood flowing to the sore muscles. This in turn helps with recovery. 

When to Use Heat

If the pain is no longer acute, meaning that it has lingered on for more than four weeks, then it’s time to use hot compresses or heating pads. Heat helps relax the tissue which blocks pain signals to the brain. Heat also dilates blood vessels, which contributes to healing. 

10. Eye Drops

Dry eyes are a common malady, which can cause discomfort and difficulty seeing clearly. Eye drops give us instant relief while flushing out any particles that could injure our eyes or spread illness. If you live with children, you might want to consider keeping eye drops for pink eye handy as well. Pink eye is common among kids and, when caused by bacteria, spreads rapidly in schools and daycares. 

Take Care of Yourself

These 10 medicines should cover your household for most non-emergency health matters. Life does throw its curveballs, but the great part about the world we live in today is that almost anything can be arranged online or prepared in advance. From ordering affordable pharmaceuticals to getting a physician, it’s never been easier to take care of yourself and your loved ones. 

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