Medications to have at home
For common minor symptoms and illnesses, you can buy over-the-counter medicines at a store without a prescription from your health care provider.
Important tips for using over-the-counter medications:
- Always follow the printed directions and warnings. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor before starting a new over-the-counter drug.
- Know what you are taking. Always look at the list of ingredients. Select products with the fewest number of ingredients needed to treat your symptoms.
- All medications become less effective (expire) over time and should be replaced. Check the expiration date before using any product.
- Store medicines in a cool, dry area. The heat from kitchens and the moisture from bathrooms decrease the effectiveness of medications.
- Store all medications out of the reach of children. See:
Storing medicine safely
Women should consult their doctor before taking over-the-counter medicines while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Review Date: 03/26/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.