You can buy many medicines for minor problems at the store without a prescription (over-the-counter).
Important tips for using over-the-counter medicines:
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their health care provider before taking any new medicine.
Medicines effect children and older adults differently. People in these age groups should take special care when taking over-the-counter medicines.
Check with your health care provider before taking an over-the-counter medicine if:
ACHES, PAINS, AND HEADACHES
Over-the-counter pain medicines can help with headache, arthritis pain, sprains, and other minor joint and muscle problems.
Both of these medicines can have serious side effects if you take them in high doses or for a long time. Tell your health care provider if you are taking these medicines many times a week. You may need to be checked for side effects.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) help reduce fever in children and adults.
Aspirin works very well for treating fever in adults. DO NOT give aspirin to a child unless your child's health care provider tells you it is OK.COLD, SORE THROAT, COUGH
Cold medicines can treat symptoms to make you feel better, but they do not shorten a cold. Taking zinc supplements within 24 hours of the start of a cold may reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold.
NOTE: Talk to your health care provider before giving your child takes any type of over-the-counter cold medicine, even if it is labeled for children.
Sore throat medicines:
Antihistamine pills and liquids work well for treating allergy symptoms.
Talk to your health care provider before giving medicines that cause sleepiness to a child, because they can affect learning. They can also affect alertness in adults.
You can also try:
NAUSEA AND VOMITING
SKIN RASHES AND ITCHING
Medications to have at home
Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;6: CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub4.
Kim SY, Chang YJ, Cho HM, Hwang YW, Moon YS. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;6:CD006362. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006362.pub3.
Li S, Yue J, Dong BR, Yang M, Lin X, Wu T. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) for the common cold in adults. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2013;7:CD008800. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008800.pub2.
Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 142.
Garza I, Swanson JW, Cheshire WP, et al. Headache and other craniofacial pain. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 69.
Atopic dermatitis. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 5.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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