35 OTC Medications You Should Store

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This is my friendly reminder on the 35 OTC medications you should store now. While you might not have given too much thought in the past about stocking up on medicine for a disaster, now might be the time to rethink that decision. Just consider a traumatic event that cuts you off from going to the doctor, dentist, or even making a trip to the massage therapist. 

That means no prescriptions, no (much-needed) root canal, and tense achy muscles. Talk about a world of discomfort and pain you’re left in. Stockpiling several over-the-counter medications before a crisis were to happen, seems to make pretty good sense to me.

Here’s a look at 35 OTC medications you should store that will need to help fight pain, nausea or even an upset stomach. 


35 OTC Medications You Should Store

Top List of OTC Medicines You Should Store 

Pain Relievers 

1. Aspirin

Aspirin is not only a fever and headache reducer, but it also reduces toothaches, swelling, and muscles that might be aching. 

2. Tylenol 

Tylenol is similar to aspirin in taking care of most pain or discomfort. You can even grind it into a powder and rub it on irritated skin for relief. Make sure you use the recommended dosing.

3. Aleve

Aleve will rid you of most aches and pains and also help reduce fevers and headaches. It even works on menstrual cramps and arthritis. While it might be similar to the previous two pain relievers, it lasts much longer. 

4. Advil 

While it might work better on headaches, Advil is believed to work more effectively on pain, fever, and inflammation. You do not want to use any medicines past their expiration date.

5. Excedrin

Excedrin works great on migraines and tension headaches, along with reducing fevers and colds. It even works on nasal congestion. 

6. Orajel 

After a crisis happens, taking a trip to the dentist might not even be an option. Orajel is a numbing medication that will help reduce toothaches, minor gum irritation and also helps with sore throats and canker sores.  

 Digestive Issues

7. Tums or Rolaids

Tums will work to provide minor relief from heartburn and upset stomach by lowering stomach acid buildup. Be sure and check out the ones that work for you before you stock up several.

8. Zantac or Similar Type Medication

Zantac will help fight off ulcers and can prevent them from coming back. It even works on throat issues, including acid reflux. I just heard on the news that Zantac may not be available in the future. Check things out before buying this med since there MAY be some adverse health issues.

9. Pepto-Bismol 

When SHTF after a calamity (literally), this antidiarrheal drug is one you can’t go without. Pepto-Bismol works on stomach issues including diarrhea, heartburn, stomach discomfort, gas, and nausea. 

10. Pepcid AC

Pepcid AC works on preventing reoccurring stomach ulcers. It also covers heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease and is proven to work much quicker.  

11. Nexium

Another useful stomach reliever to have on hand would be Nexium. Not only will it fight stomach discomfort, ulcers, and heartburn, but it also heals acid damage to the stomach and the esophagus. 

Read More of My Articles  How To Tell If Your Child May Be Dehydrated

12. Imodium 

Another medication that helps fight diarrhea, Imodium will decrease the number of bowel movements and watery stool.  

13. Milk of Magnesia 

If you’re suffering from constipation, Milk of Magnesia works as a laxative by adding water to your intestines and takes away discomfort. It also works on sour stomach and heartburn. 

14. Alka-Seltzer 

The last stomach aid that is not least on our list, is Alka-Seltzer. This medication fights a number of problems, including stomach ache, inflammation, indigestion, pain, fevers, and even on hangovers. 

Cold and Flu

15. Dayquil

Catching a cold or fever after a crisis without anything to fight it can be deadly. Dayquil fights a number of symptoms including, cough, stuffy nose, fever, flu-like symptoms, body aches, and headaches.  

16. Mucinex DM

If you’re having a rough time sleeping from all the coughing and mucus build-up in your throat, Mucinex DM just became the remedy you’re looking for. 

17. Robitussin 

Robitussin helps relieve constant coughing by reducing chest congestion. For Diabetics, it sounds like you have Diabetic-Tussin. The brand called Halls has sugar-free lozenges as well.

18. Sudafed or Sudafed PE

Sudafed PE is a short-term relief for nasal congestion while having pain-relieving benefits at the same time. It helps with the common cold and respiratory allergies. 

You can get Sudafed behind the pharmacy counter by showing your driver’s license. They will ask you for your phone number as well in Utah. I believe you can set four packages per year per driver’s license here in Utah.

19. Nyquil

Nyquil works similar to Dayquil by fighting the same symptoms, yet causes drowsiness and helps you sleep at night. 


20. Zyrtec

Struggling with sneezing, a runny nose, or itchy or watery eyes? Zyrtec is an antihistamine that will work on all of those for much-needed relief.  It’s also great for reducing rashes like hives.

21. Claritin

Claritin is another allergy relief medication that works similar to Zyrtec. It really depends on the patient to find which one works better than the other. 

22. Benadryl 

Benadryl fights symptoms such as rashes, sneezing or a runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes. It can also be taken to prevent vomiting, nausea, and dizziness.  Benadryl is critical to have on hand for emergencies.

23. Allegra

Allegra is another antihistamine that works on most allergy cases. 

Skin Irritation/Wounds 

24. Aspercreme 

Aspercreme will help treat minor aches and pains in your muscles and joints. 

25. Lotrimin

If you are suffering from a yeast infection, ringworm, jock itch or athlete’s foot, Lotrimin will be the relief you’re looking for. 

26. Cortizone 10

Cortizone 10 works great on bug bites, poison ivy, allergies, rash, and even eczema, by reducing the swelling, redness, and itching that may occur from them. 

27. Neosporin, Bacitracin or Polysporin

Everyone should have this in their stock to prepare for a catastrophe. If you’re suffering from a minor burn, wound, or cut, Neosporin will help keep bacteria from causing infections. 

Misc. Medications 

28. Charcoal Tablets 

Charcoal tablets help filter out undigested toxins and poisons that might have been ingested. 

Read More of My Articles  Can We Improve Our Immune System

29. Melatonin

Anxiety, stress, and insomnia more than likely will keep you awake after a devastating crisis. Having a stockpile of melatonin, or other sleeping aids, will help you get the rest you desperately need and help you make better decisions 

30. Potassium Iodide Tablets

If there were ever a radiation emergency, potassium iodide tablets would help the thyroid from taking on radioactive iodine. 

31. Electrolytes

During a crisis situation, you want to ensure your body is getting all the electrolytes needed for your body to function properly. Electrolyte Powder

32. Dramamine 

Dramamine will provide relief from nausea, vomiting or motion sickness. 

33. QuikClot 

You never know when you’re going to need something to stop significant bleeding. QuikClot might just very well save your life. QuikClot

34. Multivitamins 

Although not an over-the-counter medication, multivitamins will make sure you’re body is getting the right nutrients and minerals needed when you’re probably not eating the most nutritious food after an emergency. 

35. Epsom Salt 

Epsom Salt is another useful item to have, to reduce stress and relax the body. It sounds like the perfect solution to put in your next bath water after a crisis. Epsom Salt

36. Rubbing Alcohol

I remember using it for cleaning pierced ears, disinfecting dishrags and sponges.

37. Hydrogen Peroxide

You can use it to disinfect your toothbrushes and mouth guards. It’s great for disinfecting your nail or pedicure tools.

38. Diaper Rash

It’s critical we stock some diaper rash cream. We may not need it but someone in an emergency center may need it. Diaper Rash Cream

Things to Keep in Mind About OTC Medicines

  • Read the back of the label for active ingredients.
  • Make sure you store medicines appropriately.
  • Keep out of the reach of young children.
  • Seek proper health care when needed, talk to a doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you have a medical condition, seek help from your doctor.
  • Drug interactions affect people differently.
  • Know there could be an increased risk of side effects.

Stock Your Home Pharmacy

Final Word

These are a number of over-the-counter medications that you’ll want to have stored away in case an emergency were to arise. Just be aware to rotate out your supplies to keep your medical stock from going out of date. 

If you can think of any other medications that provide relief during this type of scenario, tell us about it. These are my favorite 35 OTC medications you should store if you use them. May God bless this world, Linda

October is a great month to stock up on these: What To Stock Up On In October

Saline Solution and Eye Wash

Vicks VapoRub


How To Stock Your Home Pharmacy

47 thoughts on “35 OTC Medications You Should Store

  • October 2, 2019 at 7:22 am

    For antacids I rely on Rolaids, for some reason the other brands all make me nauseous. So make sure you try whatever brands of antacids you’re planning on storing before going in whole hog…

    Zyrtec is great for allergies like hay fever, but it’s also useful in reducing rashes like hives. For folks who get hives when stressed, it’s a decent option when used in conjunction with hydrocortisone cream.

    And I wanted to share an experience with expired Orajel. The liquid numbing agent had separated from the gel so it poured out of the dispenser very fast and was just as effective, if not more so….So if you have old Orajel you might want to open it carefully over a tiny measuring spoon in case your supply has started to separate. That way you can still dispense it on the ache without wasting it or over applying it (like I did…)

    Thanks for all the wonderful articles!

    • October 2, 2019 at 7:33 am

      Hi DMWalsh, thanks for the comments. I’m going to add your tips to the post. Real-life stories help us all. These are awesome! Linda

  • October 2, 2019 at 7:54 am

    HI LInda,

    Just a few comments. Real Sudafed works much better than Sudafed PE. Real Sudafed is still an OTC drug, but it’s kept behind the pharmacy counter due to its abuse in making meth. You have to show a driver’s license and sign for it, and you’re limited to how many you can get each month.

    Get pill forms of medications whenever possible. The shelf life of pills is much greater than for liquids.

    Potassium iodide is only effective for one kind of radiation, radioactive iodine. It does nothing against cesium or strontium. And if you’re an older person, you may not need it at all. It’s only for preventing thyroid cancer which can take up to a decade to develop in older people.

    This is a great list you have put together. I would definitely add caffeine pills to the list. They’re sold as No-Doze, Vivarin, and Jet Alert. They’re inexpensive and have numerous uses. I have written about the use of caffeine, Benadryl, and most all the other medications you have listed on my blog PrepSchoolDaily dot blogspot dot com.

    Have a great day!

    • October 2, 2019 at 8:01 am

      Hi Jennifer, great comment, thank you. I just added the kind of Sudafed you mentioned. That’s the only one I buy from behind the pharmacy counter. Great reminder. Thank you so much, Linda

    • November 27, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      Nu-skin or a similar product. It’s to cover abrasions or closed cuts with a protective film (more like water-soluble varnish) to keep out dirt and germs. Burns like crazy on something like a juicy abrasion, but by the time it stops the wound is protected and stable. And it will stay that way until you wash with soap & water.

      • November 27, 2019 at 1:53 pm

        Hi David, thank you for the reminder about Nu-skin. Great tip! Linda

      • August 2, 2020 at 8:17 pm

        When using this product, use a Q Tip instead of the tiny brush. This will avoid contaminating the rest of the contents.

  • October 2, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    As of October 1, they are pulling Zantac off the shelf because it causes cancer, When I asked my doctor what kind of cancer she said she did not know.

    • October 2, 2019 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Linda, thank you, that’s why I wrote what I did on my post. This is crazy all these people have been taking this poisonous FDA approved medication and now it’s being taken off the market. It’s so scary! Linda

  • October 2, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    I think you might want to add another type of Robistussin to the list and that is their medication for diabetics called Diabeti-Tussin.

    Some medications like throat lozenges have sugar in them, but Halls offer sugar free versions and to alleviate dryness, they sell their Refresh Advanced Moisture Action which are like lozenges or hard candy. You suck them and they sort of squirt inside your mouth. Sugar free or not, they’re nice to have and not medicinal, so they’re safe for anyone.

    And while not medication, but a comfort item, they sell a few sugar free candies at Dollar Tree, but the best place to find a wide variety is (No not Walmart)…. but Walgreens. They seem to stock more than most stores.

    One more thing I like to have is Afrin Nasal Spray (Or similar) to relieve my stuffy nose at night. You spray it, it drips, you blow your nose and then you can breathe and get right back to sleep.

    • October 2, 2019 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Frank, thanks for the reminder on Diabetics, adding these right now. That’s a great tip on Walgreens!! Thank you! Linda

  • October 2, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for your comments. I have GERD pretty bad since my surgery one of the foods they I should not eat is any surgary items.

    • October 2, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Hi Linda, thank you for that comment!! I’m sorry to hear you got Gerd from the surgery, that’s not fun! Linda

      • October 2, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        I learned a lot from your list and commentary, thank you Linda.
        We keep less than 5 of the items mentioned on this list, on hand. Over the years I have searched for and used natural remedies, keeping those on hand instead. For me this choice has also eliminated side effects. But I am a family herbalist so that training helps a lot.

        • October 2, 2019 at 2:52 pm

          Hi Janet, I use My Doctor Suggests Structured Silver more than anything. The list is mainly to help people think about everything they use each day, once a week, or monthly. Or maybe even yearly. My goal is to teach people to be prepared before they have to be. I really admire you for being a family herbalist. That is so awesome. We need to be able to take care of ourselves and teach people not to rely on modern medicine if it’s not available. It would be so nice if everyone could bring something to the table in the neighborhood. We will all need different skills. I love natural remedies too. I rarely go to the doctor, I never get sick. Your neighborhood is lucky, Janet! Linda

    • October 2, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      Linda ~
      I had surgery over 3 years ago and had never experienced GERD before that! I have been taking Omeprozole consistently and it barely kept it in check. Now before bed (I am rarely if ever, affected during the daytime) I take 1/4 teaspoon of good ol’ baking soda in a glass of water and a little squirt of lemonade drops for flavoring. I haven’t had any GERD since then (have been taking this for over a week now).

  • October 2, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    I’d also suggest that everyone at least read up on home remedies–including old-fashioned herbal ones.
    The only pain reliever I’ve used in years is willow bark (I put the cut-up bark in a jar with vodka and let it sit for a month or so, then strain and put in brown bottles). Seems to take perhaps a little longer to take effect than aspirin, but works and lasts better, with none of the NSAID side-effects.

    For indigestion, meadowsweet flowers made into a glycerite (soaked in vegetable glycerine). My husband had had bad reflux apparently for several years–pill-pushing doctor had put him on omeprazole for those several years, which damaged his memory (and I know from vet medicine that horses shouldn’t be on omeprazole for more than a few weeks!) Meadowsweet made the difference.

    These are only a few… All kinds of good medicine probably grows in your back yard: plantain, yarrow, mullein… And that’s just the weeds, never mind what can be intentionally grown!

    The OTC remedies are certainly worth having on hand, but can cause other problems and will eventually run out. Be aware of the old-time ones, too.

    • October 2, 2019 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Rhonda, great comment. It’s to bad the doctor pushed those drugs on your sweet husband. Years ago we followed the doctor’s suggestions. Not so much anymore. We have to be our own advocates for our health. I really appreciate your comments on the old-fashioned herbal remedies. When I was little I bet I went to the doctor once in ten years. AND I had measles, chickenpox and who knows what else. It’s funny Rhonda, or maybe it really isn’t. My daughters and I have high cholesterol. I have been taking statins for 30 years (not good). My daughters have learned to fight it naturally and with diet. Imagine that?? LOL! I hope to be off my cholesterol medicine within 6 months based on their ideas. Yes, this old dog can change. LOL! Linda

    • October 3, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Rhonda ~
      Thank you for the information on meadowsweet. I will look into getting some and trying it. I really want to get off the omeprozole! The baking soda works pretty well but that is so high in sodium. So, I will research the herb and give it a try!

      One of the things that I did a few years ago was take a couple of on-line herbal classes thinking (and rightly so) that in retirement, I might not have the money to spend on conventional drugs if needed. I am NOT an herbalist in any form but I think that I have enough herbal knowledge to at least research herbal remedies and try them on myself!

      • October 3, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Leanne, the meadowsweet glycerite even tastes good! DH actually only needs to take it very occasionally now. We also had a friend have bad acid tummy while he was visiting–didn’t have any antacid to give him, so I offered the meadowsweet–he was thrilled with how it worked!

        From what I’ve read, the omeprozole actually may perpetuate the reflux–it lowers the acid, so digestion isn’t as good, and the stomach contents actually may begin to ferment, causing it to bubble up into the esophagus. Plus food isn’t as completely digested.

    • October 19, 2019 at 6:58 am

      Rhonda, I also have been trying to read as much as I can about herbal remedies, essential oils for our medical needs. My husband has stomach problems and they prescribed Zantac. They are recalling the Zantac right now, so trying to get him to try other things. We have an essential oil that we use for some tummy problems, but I am going to research the Meadowsweet that you recommend.

  • October 3, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I’m not an herbalist, but do believe in home grown remedies. I keep a bunch of homeopathic herbal teas on hand, turmeric spice for joints, ground ginger & mint for tummy, and a bunch of Vicks or generic brands for colds, but I’ve heard dry mustard plasters are what they used to use instead. I’ve also heard cayenne pepper is good for stopping bleeding even when just sprinkled on a cut. Although my mom drank some in a tall glass of water when hemorrhaging after giving birth to my brother at home and quit bleeding out, my sister freaked out when I suggested taking it to another family member. Wonder if you could find any more research on the usefulness of cayenne pepper? Thanks for all you do!

    • October 3, 2019 at 11:02 am

      Hi Estina, I remember my mom putting a mustard plaster on my dad’s chest because he had pneumonia (I’m guessing all these years later). I wrote a post on making nuts with Cayenne pepper. It’s so good. I talked a little about the health benefits. I will work on another post very soon. I stock Cayenne pepper for health issues. https://www.foodstoragemoms.com/quick-easy-healthy-spicy-nuts-recipe/ That’s a great story about your mom surviving the hemorrhaging after giving birth. I truly believe we will be going back to the surviving just like our parents and grandparents did. And it will be without BIG PHARMA. Great comment. Linda

  • October 3, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    here are some things to consider candied ginger-stomach irregularities, red pepper-stops bleeding (type 2 diabetic some times bleed when getting injections stops right away ) , apple cider vinager – upset stomach , gurr, oil of oregano capsuls – colds, flu,eldiberry syrup-colds and cough,tiger balm-joint pain,bag balm melted with oil of oregano,collodial silver,myrr (apply to cuts ,ccover heals within three days better than ungenteen

    • October 4, 2019 at 8:00 am

      Hi Bill, oh my gosh, thank you so much for this list!! I never thought to melt Bag Balm. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this comment! Thank you so much! Linda

  • October 19, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Zantac is being recalled, so probably might find a different antacid to take like Pepcid. Love all the other ideas. Definitely printing a list of all the great ideas.

    • October 19, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Hi Carla, it’s crazy the FDA approves it and now it’s being recalled. I guess the research wasn’t that good the first time. Heaven help those who have been taking it. Linda

  • January 28, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Hello! Just came across this article–good one! I would like to add to your list of OTC meds: Salon Pas has fairly recently put out a new adhesive pain patch that contains 4% lidocaine, only 1% less than prescription only Lidoderm patches and far cheaper! The patches can be worn for up to 12 hours and, of course, don’t contain any narcotics. And it doesn’t smell like BenGay as do their other patches.

  • April 12, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Zantac has been removed from the market I love your list but I think it may need an update.

    • April 13, 2020 at 5:44 am

      Hi Marcia, the way the FDA works I will have to update continually. Thank you, Linda

  • May 25, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Would included items for sprained ankles and such. there are instant ice packs and gauze. Also things for cuts. Like band aids, those butterfly things. First aid book. Rags. Lots of rags
    hydrogen perioxide

    • May 25, 2020 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Donna, thanks for your comment. I have several lists, this is just one of many. Great comment, Linda

  • May 26, 2020 at 6:47 am

    I love you blog and really appreciate all the work you put into it. IBecause of your blog I was fully prepared for this pandemic and all the groceries gone from the stores. You and me think alike about being prepared. Thank you again

  • August 4, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Linda, is there a way to print out this list along with your explanations in a condensed format? THanks so very much for your diligent, caring work.

    • August 4, 2020 at 7:49 am

      Hi Glenda, yes, let me know if you see the green “PRINT” button. It prints ONLY the post with ZERO ads. I just emailed it to you. Let me know if it worked, I have never emailed one to a reader. Some of my readers PRINT every post and file them so in case we lose power, they can read them. Stay well, Linda

  • August 15, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    I know this is an older post, I just wanted to mention that Neosporin should no longer be the go to when treating minor skin wounds or irritation. Neosporin has been know to cause allergic reactions and super bugs. Doctors recommend that you treat with single ingredient medications like Bacitracin.

    • August 15, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Lesley, wow, thanks for letting me know. I had not heard this, Linda

    • August 15, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      Hi Lesley, thank you, I just added Polysporin and Bacitracin. Thank you, Linda

  • December 22, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Linda, excellent list, but add children’s and infants medicine doses and bottled water. Also alcohol free cough syrups. Be cautious with sugar free candy, especially with children. Mannitol and other sweeteners used don’t disrupt blood sugar because they are excreted through the bowels, and too much results in major diarrhea. But have regular candy on hand for treats after un tasty medicine, and diabetic insulin reactions. Insulin levels are affected by not just diet (and diets get disrupted during disasters,) but unusual exercise and bio thermic stress ( keep them warm in cold/cool in heat). Also emotional stress, can affect their levels, along with injuries, illness, potential dehydration and sleep disruption. Plenty of fresh blood testing supplies, insulin (hopefully the modern shelf stable variety. If not, a method of refrigeration for it. Sanitary gloves, alcohol prep swabs.

    • December 22, 2020 at 6:21 pm

      Hi MaryAnn, oh my gosh, thank you so much for your tips!! You will be such an asset where you live if a disaster hits. We need all of this information NOW before an unforeseen emergency occurs. Great stuff, Linda

  • December 22, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Linda, more to add. First let me say I’m retired from nursing, with first aid, EMT, CPR Trainer, Herbal Interests, and older medical technology background. Not everything I mention is an OTC med but it’s all related. Now I have GERD and IBS and have been on everything there is for both. But currently I take Famotidine 20 mg and it works outstandingly. Best solution I’ve ever had and no problems. It’s available OTC as Pepcid AC by trade name and generic equivalent brands at 10 mg, that dose works for many people, but 2 tabs gives the full prescription strength. Currently the prescription strength 20mg is off the market for reformulation, so I’ve been taking 2 10 mg tabs for 3+ years with good effect. Occasionally I still get heartburn if I take Ibuprofen too much. But some Tums chewables work for that. Tums are good to stockpile. They are a great source of calcium, too. Get off that stuff you are on, it’s nasty! MA

    • December 22, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      Hi MaryAnn, thank you for these great tips, this is a great addition to my post. I really pray that people stash items they need before a major disaster. If the stores or pharmacies are closed to major power outages or whatever, they need to have items they use on a regular basis. Linda

      • December 23, 2020 at 8:53 pm

        Hi Linda, looked at some of your other blog entries, and grabbed that recipe for M&M bars. Great blog, I cast a vote for you too. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Here’s to 2021 being the year we get on top of Covid and maybe able to see some extended family for next years family holidays! MA

        • December 24, 2020 at 7:33 am

          Hi MaryAnn, you are so nice!! Thank you! I agree let’s move onto 2021! Merry Christmas! Linda


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