You don’t have to get ill to buy and consume certain medications. Here’s a list of over the counter drugs that should be in your cabinet at home.

How well-stocked is your bathroom pharmacy?

While there are myriad medications you can buy online or at the store, not all are everyday essentials.

Still, it pays to have quick access to the ones that can offer critical relief when you need it the most. From bellyaches to cuts and scrapes, you don’t want to run to the store every time you experience a common ailment.

Today, we’re sharing a go-to list of over the counter drugs that you should always keep on hand. You’ll be the local neighbourhood caretaker with this toolkit!

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

Pain-Relieving OTC Medications

First, let’s discuss three top OTC drugs that are ideal for managing and treating pain and fevers. Keep in mind that while these medications can provide short-term relief, you should consult your doctor for the steps to take after a trauma-related injury.


This is a must-have in your medicine cabinet, capable of lowering a fever with one dose. It’s also an ideal anti-inflammatory agent, especially if you don’t tolerate others, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, very well.

Make sure to read the label to find the correct dosage, especially when administering acetaminophen to an infant or child. Most adults should cap their dosage at four grams per day to avoid the risk of liver damage.

Common brand names in this category include Tylenol, Tempra, and Panadol.

Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

If your fever, pain or inflammation doesn’t respond to acetaminophen, your doctor may recommend NSAIDs instead.

One of the most common types is ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) which works for four hours, though Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox) may offer longer-lasting relief.

Keep in mind that individuals with kidney disease or a history of stomach bleeding should steer clear of NSAIDs, as should anyone taking blood thinners.


Asprin’s natural blood-clotting properties make it a first-line defence against heart attack and stroke. Like the above two types of OTC drugs, it also combats pain, fever, and inflammation.

While it can be a helpful treatment for adults, understand that children under 14 years of age should never take aspirin, as it can lead to fatal brain swelling.

Checking the labels, ensuring child-resistant lids, and using the right storage methods can help keep your medications in the right hands. Before you head to the pharmacy, read more ways to minimize errors and keep your family safe.

Though many rely on aspirin to manage arthritis and other types of chronic pain, it can lead to dangerous side effects, including stomach ulcers, pulmonary edema, and kidney failure.

Cold and Cough-Fighting OTC Medications

No need to rush to the doctor when the common cold hits! Research shows that most people will get between two and three of these per year, so it’s important to be prepared. These OTC medications can get you there.


One of the most uncomfortable side effects of a cold is that nagging cough. Quell it with Dextromethorphan, which you’ll find in major industry players such as Delsym, Robitussin, Triaminic and more.

This is one of the most common ingredients in OTC cough syrups. You’ll know it’s in there if you see “DM” at the end of the name, such as Robitussin DM. Keep out of reach for children four years and younger.


Got mucus you can’t shake? Guaifenesin is an expectorant, helping to thin it so you can cough or blow it out.

The most common brand is Mucinex, though you’ll also find it in Robitussin and others. It may exacerbate coughing at first, but it will also make it more productive, decreasing in frequency as you clear out your bronchi and large breathing tubes.


You might recognize this one from Sudafed, which features pseudoephedrine as its active ingredient. Best for treating head and sinus pressure, this oral decongestant helps to shrink your engorged blood vessels for relief.

As it acts as an adrenaline-like medication, anyone with high blood pressure or a rapid heartbeat should avoid medications that contain this drug.


If a sore throat is getting you down, reach Cepacol lozenges or sprays, full of numbing benzocaine.

You can also find this drug as eardrop antipyrine (Rx-Octic, Aurodex) or as a soothing agent for toothaches and oral ulcers (Anbesol).


We’ve all been there. Your cold led to sneezing, watery eyes, and a nose that runs like a faucet. That’s where an antihistamine can offer major relief. The active ingredient in favourites such as Benadryl is diphenhydramine.

Remember that this medication can make you drowsy. In fact, it’s a key ingredient in many OTC sleeping pills! Other powerful antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra).

Stomach-Soothing OTC Medications

When an upset stomach, constipation or diarrhoea attack, you need to be ready. These OTC drugs can offer the fast relief you need.

Bismuth Subsalicylate

You know this one by its bubble-gum-pink trademark brand: Pepto-Bismol! Reach for it when you’re suffering from indigestion, heartburn, nausea or runny stools.

Heralded for its antibacterial, anti-secretory, and anti-acid properties, it isn’t made for use with infants, children or breastfeeding women. In a similar vein, you can also drop a few Bicarbonate tablets (Alka-Seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer) in a glass of water to ease an upset stomach.


Used to keep nausea and motion sickness at bay, dimenhydrinate is the active ingredient in the OTC drug Dramamine. It can also help relieve dizziness, though you shouldn’t take it with sedatives, as this combination can cause drowsiness.

Keep This List of Over the Counter Drugs Handy

When you’re browsing the aisles of the pharmacy, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are shelves of every kind of potion and pill, designed to help treat a range of conditions.

That’s where this list of over the counter drugs can come in handy! Keep it close by to help stock your home with the essentials.

Want to explore more healthcare topics? Keep reading our articles for the relevant and timely news you need.