Thumbnail image of: My Medicines: Illustration

Medicines to Keep on Hand

What medicines should I have on hand?

There are many products that you can buy at the drugstore or grocery store without a prescription. They usually don’t cure an illness but they can help relieve symptoms. It’s a good idea to have a few nonprescription medicines and other first aid items on hand to treat minor illnesses or injuries.

Products that you may want to keep on hand include:

  • Medicines to relieve pain or fever
  • Antibiotic ointment and small bandages for cuts and scrapes

There are many other nonprescription products available for treating diarrhea, constipation, skin problems, cold symptoms, allergies, insect bites, sunburns, and other conditions. It is best to purchase these items as needed.

A product might not work after its expiration date. It may also cause problems if it is expired. If a product does not have an expiration date, write down the date you bought it. Check with a pharmacist before using it if it is more than 1 year old.

If you have a condition that causes ongoing problems, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about nonprescription medicines that may help.

What else should I know about these medicines?

  • Follow the directions that come with your medicine, including information about food or alcohol. Make sure you know how and when to take your medicine. Do not take more or less than you are supposed to take.
  • Keep a list of your medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. When you are buying nonprescription medicines, take your list with you and ask the pharmacist if there are any possible interactions between your regular medicines and the medicines you are about to buy.
  • Tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all of the products you are taking.
  • Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause and what you should do if you have side effects.

If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-10-25
Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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