Picture this: You’ve woken up at 3 AM with a pounding headache, lockdown measures are in place, and the nearest health facility is miles away. In such a scenario, having a well-stocked home pharmacy could prove decisive.
Stockpiling on the right medication is essential in handling emergencies, combating sickness, and promoting the well-being of your family. But which medications should you include in your pharmacy? Read on to find out:
Important Considerations While Stockpiling Medication
First things first; it’s important to grasp some of the best practices when it comes to maintaining a well-stocked home pharmacy. It’s not just a case of buying medications based on recommendations you find online. Here are some of the most important considerations:
Stockpiling medications is a highly personalized endeavor. Sure, there are some must-have drugs such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories that everyone is likely to use—but others depend on the unique needs of your household.
Evaluate your specific needs/risk factors or those of your family members—and stockpile medications that they’re likely to use every day or for emergencies. Consider whether anyone has a chronic medical condition, allergies, or drug preference. Also consider the demographics such as age, disability, gender, etc.
What is the ideal quantity of drugs to buy? Well, there’s no clear answer to this question. It comes down to your needs – i.e., store the amount you’d need in the worst-case scenario. But ensure it’s a reasonable quantity that factors in the expiration dates. You don’t want to overstock and throw away medications after they go unused long past their expiration date.
Contrary to common practice, the medicine cabinet above your bathroom sink is not the best place to store medication. Humidity and heat are not kind on shelf-life and potency. The general rule of thumb is to store medication in a cool, dark, and dry location—preferably in their original packaging. And ensure all the medication or chemicals in your household are stored out of reach of children.
10 of the Best OTC and Prescription Medications to Stockpile
Stockpiling on medication doesn’t have to be an expensive or stressful exercise. With the right tips and recommendations to nudge you in the right direction, you can be well-prepared for emergencies or any other use.
The meds listed below are a good starting point—but your medicine cabinet might be different and unique to your needs.
- Aspirin – Ecotrin, Bayer
If you’re looking to stockpile on medications to reduce inflammation/swelling, control mild to moderate pain, and reduce fever, Aspirin is a good choice.
It’s a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that’s effective for conditions such as headaches, common cold, toothaches, common cold, muscle aches, and arthritis management. Aspirin may also be recommended to prevent blood clots (i.e., it’s a blood thinner) when used in low dosages—consequently helping reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- Ibuprofen – Advil, Motrin
Like Aspirin, Ibuprofen is a common NSAID used to relieve pain, sores, sinus pressure, muscle strain, painful kidney infections, and fever. It’s also an effective pain killer used to ease back pain, headaches, arthritis pain, toothaches, menstrual cramps, sinus pain, and earaches, among other illnesses.
Ibuprofen is available as a syrup, capsules, tablets, spray, mousse, and as a gel. It’s sometimes combined with other pain-relieving medications such as Acetaminophens to better manage fever and pain. However, high doses or prolonged use may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Acetaminophen – Tylenol
Acetaminophen is an effective medication for fever reduction and managing minor pains/aches—including menstrual cramps, toothaches, muscle aches, arthritis-related pain, headaches, back pain, and the common cold. You may find it useful if you occasionally get headaches after missing your daily intake of caffeine in the morning.
Unlike Ibuprofen or Aspirin, Acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory—and it has minimal side effects as long you keep consumption within the recommended limits.
- Pseudoephedrine – Sudafed
Pseudoephedrine is an over-the-counter medication that’s effective for the relief of respiratory tract congestion. It’s especially a handy item in your medicine cabinet during flu season—when the risk of bronchitis, allergies hay fever, flu, and common cold is high.
Please note that Pseudoephedrine can only be purchased from the pharmacy and quantities buyable in one go are restricted. This is because it’s a stimulant that may be used in the manufacturing of illicit drugs.
- Meclizine – Bonine, Dramamine
If anyone in your family tends to suffer from motion sickness, insomnia, or anxiety, stockpiling on Meclizine may prove useful. The medication—which is an antihistamine—is also effective in proving relief for vertigo and vomiting. It comes as an oral tablet and it’s important to follow the prescribed dosage to mitigate risks or side effects.
- Diphenhydramine – Benadryl
Diphenhydramine is another antihistamine that’s used to relieve the symptoms of common cold, hay fever, anxiety, insomnia, motion sickness, and some allergies. The prescription medicine helps with an itchy throat, watery/itchy eyes, hives, and a runny nose—making it a must-have medication to stockpile.
- Clotrimazole – Gyne-Lotrimin
Yeast and fungal infections on your skin are a nag and could potentially lead to serious health problems. To keep the infections in check, consider stockpiling on Clotrimazole. It is effective in treating ringworm athlete’s foot, jock itch, and candidiasis, among other fungal infections.
Keep in mind that it’s applied topically, regularly, and you should wash your hands after use.
- Bacitracin Ointment – Baciguent
Afraid that some of your family members might be victims of insect bites and stings? Or maybe lacerations, abrasions, and other minor cuts? Having a tube (or more) of Bacitracin anti-bacterial ointment may be a wise addition to your medicine cabinet.
It helps manage infections in superficial wounds—but it’s not advisable for deep puncture wounds and deeper infections.
- Hydrocortisone Cream
If you need medication to reduce topical swelling, itching, and redness, Hydrocortisone cream is worth your consideration. It’s used to treat a wide range of skin irritations—including scrapes, cuts, diaper rash, hives, eczema, discomfort from hemorrhoids, minor pain, and poison ivy irritation.
Disclaimer: Antibiotics should be used under the direction of a licensed and qualified health care provider. Prescriptions are typically made after accurate diagnosis—hence the decision to stockpile demands careful consideration.
Taking the disclaimer above into consideration, the best antibiotic to stockpile for emergencies includes Cephalexin (Keflex), Metronidazole (Flagyl), and Ciprofloxacin (Cipro).
Are You Prepared?
The importance of a well-stocked medicine cabinet cannot be understated. It can help solve day-to-day medication needs and prepare you for emergencies.
Start by evaluating the medications in your medicine cabinet, the needs of your family, and some of the recommendations in this list—then plan on what you’re going to stock up on in your next drug store run.