Minor illness is common and symptoms often begin when pharmacies are closed. Here are suggestions of some medicines that are useful to keep in the home for occasional use. All are available without a prescription and many can be found in your local supermarket, however, some items are only available over the counter in your local pharmacy. It is essential that you follow the dosage instructions very carefully on any medicine. Your pharmacist is a useful source of information and advice and appropriate medications.
Some of the larger supermarkets have pharmacies with longer opening hours.
Pain Relief comes in different forms. All will ease pain and reduce high temperatures:
Paracetamol – is available in tablet or soluble form for adults and older children, or liquid form for young children. If you have young children, paracetamol is perhaps the most important medicine to keep in at all times.
Aspirin – comes in tablet and soluble form. Gargling with soluble aspirin is advised for sore throats. It also reduces inflammation, so it may be more useful for easing muscular aches and sprains. Side-effects are more common with aspirin than with paracetamol. In particular, you should not take aspirin if you have a duodenal or stomach ulcer. Aspirin can make breathing symptoms worse in some people with asthma. Do not give aspirin to children under 16.
Anti-inflammatory painkillers – (e.g. ibuprofen) are painkillers which also reduce inflammation but are slightly stronger than aspirin. They are available in tablet form for adults and older children or liquid form for younger children. They are helpful for muscular aches and sprains and are often used to relieve period pain. Like aspirin, they should not be used if you have had an ulcer and should be used with caution if you have asthma.
Antihistamines – ease the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies (e.g. itch, sneezing, watery eyes, runny noses and urticaria (hives)). Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness (e.g. Piriton). These may be useful for taking at bedtime. There are several types which cause less drowsiness and are better to take during the day.
Antihistamine Creams – are useful to relieve the effects of insect bites and stings.
Antacids – help to ease indigestion and heartburn and are available in different forms and strengths, e.g. Rennie, Gaviscon. Always read the label.
It is also useful to keep a variety of plasters, cotton wool and some antiseptic cream to treat minor cuts and grazes.