Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Over the Counter Drugs

Here is a suggestion of some drugs that are useful to keep in the home for occasional use. You can buy the following from pharmacies without a prescription.

Note: Before taking a drug, always read the packet label. This is for instructions on how to take the drug, who should not take the drug, and for a list of possible side-effects.


Paracetamol eases pain. It also reduces fever (high temperatures). It comes in tablet form for adults and older children and as a liquid for young children and babies. You can also get soluble tablets. If you have young children, paracetamol is perhaps the most important drug to keep in at all times. Paracetamol is safe at normal doses, but is dangerous in overdose.

Anti-inflammatory painkillers

These are painkillers which also reduce inflammation. Most need a prescription but you can buy one called ibuprofen from pharmacies. They are helpful for muscular aches and sprains and are often used to relieve period pain. Like paracetamol, ibuprofen also reduces a fever. Anti-inflammatory painkillers should not be used by certain people. For example, if you have or have had an ulcer.


These ease the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. For example: urticaria (hives), itch, sneezing, watering eyes, and a running nose. Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness - for example, chlorpheniramine (Piriton®). These may be useful for taking at bedtime. There are several types which cause less drowsiness and are better for during the day.


These help to ease indigestion and heartburn. There are various types. For example, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate, aluminium or magnesium hydroxide. They work by neutralising the acid content of the stomach. You can also buy more powerful drugs which reduce acid in the stomach - for example, cimetidine.

Hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion

Hydrocortisone cream is a mild steroid cream. Steroids reduce inflammation. Hydrocortisone can reduce the swelling and pain of sunburn, insect stings, and other inflammation of the skin. Calamine lotion is soothing and cooling for inflamed or itchy skin.

Other useful items

It is worth keeping a variety of plasters, a crepe bandage, a triangular bandage, a support stocking bandage, a pair of tweezers, and some antiseptic cream to treat minor cuts, grazes, and sprains.

Further advice

Your pharmacist is a good source of advice and information. Also, see www.medicine-chest.co.uk for details of all drugs that you can buy in the UK.

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