It’s easy to take the power of medicine for granted. We all grew up with the idea that you can just pop a pill and get rid of your cold and flu symptoms, but just a little over a century ago this was completely unheard of.
Back then, people had to live with their symptoms and could only hope they would get better. If you ever find yourself in a long-term disaster without OTC (over-the-counter) medications, you’ll quickly find out how rough it was for them.
The list below is not a comprehensive list of all the medical supplies you should stockpile. Rather, it’s a list of the most popular OTC medications that you can take orally (or in some cases, topically).
The medications listed below should take care of all the most common ailments such as allergies, arthritis, congestion, constipation, cough, cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, fever, headache, heartburn, nausea, sore throat, runny nose, vomiting, and more.
I listed them alphabetically by the most popular names (usually a brand name), but I also included the generic names in parentheses along with links to them on amazon.com since the generic versions are much cheaper and usually just as effective (most of them are made by Kirkland Signature, which I have found to be reliably good).
Before you say, “I hardly ever get sick, I’ll be fine,” keep in mind that during a major disaster you’ll be undergoing a lot of stress which will quickly weaken your immune system. If you get sick and are feeling miserable, you won’t be nearly as helpful to those who depend on you.
But don’t just run to the store and start filling your cart with drugs. Stop and think about what you use most and least often. For example, I have a lot of antacids because I tend to get heartburn, but I only have a little bit of Dramamine because I rarely ever get nauseous, even when I’m sick.
Once you figure out which items you use most frequently, add them to your EDC kit, your bug out bag, and your regular first aid supplies.
It should also be noted that some of these items are slightly redundant. For example, Excedrin is just equal parts acetaminophen and aspirin, so you’ll have to decide whether to buy Excedrin or just make your own. As another example, there are many different things listed for digestive discomfort.
That’s because some things work for some people, and some don’t. Everybody is different. Figure out which products work best for you and your family, and stock up on those.
Also, don’t forget to note the expiration dates of your medications. Although they’ll last a while beyond the expiration dates, they will lose their potency over time, so you should keep track of what’s new and what’s old. Now on to the list (organized by the type of ailment they treat).
#1. Activated charcoal tablets. They are usually used in an incredibly large number of situations, from absorbing intestinal gas to reducing cholesterol, but it’s very very important that you have this in your emergency kit as an emergency medicine in intoxications. It can trap toxins and stop their absorption in the organism.
Aspirin can be used to treat pain, lower fever, reduce inflammation and reduce the chances of having a stroke or heart attack. Aspirin can also be used in conjunction with other over-the-counter medications to increase the other medication’s effectiveness. You can actually make natural aspirin at home.
Acetaminophen is used to relieve pain, including headaches and lower fever. It can also be used with other medications, such as decongestants and opioids (pain killers) to produce a synergistic effect. Research indicates acetaminophen is safe for pregnant women to take.
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which means it’s great for treating pain caused by or related to inflammation. As a result, ibuprofen can be used to treat ailments such as high fever, arthritis and joint pains. Despite its benefits, pregnant women should not take ibuprofen, but there are other powerful natural anti-inflammatory and pain relief agents.
Benzocaine is a topical pain reliever, often used for treating toothaches and sore throats. Benzocaine can be found in a gel, lozenge or spray form.
Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, similar to ibuprofen and used to treat similar ailments, including headaches, inflammation, high fever and joint pain. One of the advantages of naproxen is that it lasts longer than acetaminophen and ibuprofen and is better at reducing inflammation than ibuprofen. However, naproxen isn’t as effective as acetaminophen or ibuprofen in some people.
Digestive Treatments and Relief
Magnesium sulphate can be used internally as a laxative and externally as a wound cleaner. It can also help ease sore muscles.
Alka-Seltzer serves as an antacid as well as a pain reliever. Alka-Seltzer contains aspirin, which reduces pain, as well as citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, to create an antacid when mixed with water.
Loperamide is very important because it helps reduce the severity of diarrhea. Diarrhea is a serious threat to a person’s health in a survival situation, since it can quickly lead to dehydration.
Bismuth sub-salicylate is a great medication for treating a wide variety of gastrointestinal ailments, such as heartburn, diarrhea, nausea and indigestion.
Calcium carbonate serves as an antacid and is used to treat heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion. Calcium carbonate can also be used as a calcium supplement
For those who suffer from chronic heartburn, ulcers or acid reflux disease, ranitidine is a much-needed medication. Ranitidine works by reducing the amount of stomach acid the body produces.
Famotidine reduces the amount of stomach acid the body makes. This in turn helps reduce the discomfort from heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux disease.
Cimetidine is a stomach acid reducer used to treat heartburn, acid reflux disease and ulcers.
Esomeprazole is yet another stomach acid reducer and can be used to treat ulcers, heartburn and acid reflux disease.
When a laxative is required, bisacodyl will be nice to have on hand. Bisacodyl is often taken in pill form and is used to treat constipation.
Maalox serves as an antacid by helping neutralize stomach acid. Maalox’s primary ingredient is magnesium hydroxide, which is often included in other types of antacids. Maalox can be found in liquid, capsule and chewable tablet form.
Imagine your family’s lives are on the line. Get the answer right or people die.
Skin and Allergy
Hydrocortisone cream is used to relieve the itching, swelling, pain and soreness of skin conditions, such as rashes. The active ingredient is hydrocortisone, which is a topical corticosteroid. Hydrocortisone cream can be used to treat bug bites, eczema, poison ivy/oak exposure and other skin conditions.
Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that helps reduce the discomfort caused by allergies. Depending on the individual, it can also be used to treat motion sickness, nausea and trouble sleeping, since it causes drowsiness.
Loratadine is used to treat allergies, such as hives and hay fever. Since it is a second generation antihistamine, it has the advantage of not causing drowsiness – an important aspect of a medication during a survival situation.
Like Loratadine, Fexofenadine is a second generation antihistamine used to relive the symptoms of allergies without causing drowsiness.
Cetirizine is an antihistamine commonly used to treat hay fever and other allergies. Because it’s a second generation antihistamine, the effects of drowsiness are much reduced.
Cough, Cold and Decongestant
There are many cough suppressants available, many of which have other active ingredients, such as guaifenesin to provide additional cough, mucus and cold relief. The primary active ingredient in a cough suppressant is dextromethorphan.
Pseudoephedrine is the primary active ingredient in strong decongestant medications. It is often used to treat symptoms of the common cold and sinus infections.
Burn Jel is used to treat burns, including sunburns. The active ingredient is lidocaine, which helps numb the skin and underlying tissue. Another way to treat burns and many other infections is homemade colloidal silver.
QuickClot is a brand name for a bandages and sponges that stop bleeding as quickly as possible by applying a clotting agent to the wound. This is a great, unusual item you shave have in your first aid kit.
#27: Neosporin (Neosporin is an antibiotic cream that contains the following three antibiotics: bacitracin, polymyxin B and neomycin. Neosporin will help prevent an infection of a minor skin wound, such as a small cut or scrape.)
Dimenhydrinate is used to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness, including nausea and dizziness.
Clotrimazole is often sold in cream form as an antifungal medication. It is commonly used to treat jock itch, yeast infections, thrush and athlete’s foot.
Multivitamins may not be considered by many as a medication, but in a survival situation, getting proper nutrients from food may not be possible. Therefore, individuals can supplement their diet with multivitamin pills to prevent malnutrition.
#31. 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.
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Also, since many other people will be stressed out and possibly sick, you could use some of your medicine for bartering.