Note: before taking a medicine, always read the packet label. This is for instructions on how to take the medicine, who should not take the medicine, and for a list of possible side-effects.
Paracetamol eases pain. It also reduces fever (high temperature). It comes in tablet form for adults and older children and as a liquid for young children and babies. You can also get soluble tablets. If you have young children, paracetamol is perhaps the most important medicine to keep in at all times. Paracetamol is safe at normal doses, but is harmful if you take too much (overdose).
These are painkillers which also reduce inflammation. Most need a prescription but you can buy ibuprofen, and diclofenac from pharmacies. They are helpful for muscular aches and sprains and are often used to relieve period pain. Like paracetamol, they also reduce a fever. Anti-inflammatory painkillers should not be used by certain people – for example, if you have, or have had, an ulcer.
These ease the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. For example: urticaria (hives), itch, sneezing, watering eyes, and a running nose. Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness – for example, chlorphenamine (Piriton®). These may be useful for taking at bedtime. There are several types which cause less drowsiness and are better for during the day – for example, loratadine and cetirizine.
These help to ease indigestion and heartburn. There are various types. For example: sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate, aluminium or magnesium hydroxide. They work by neutralising the acid content of the stomach. You can also buy more powerful medicines which reduce acid in the stomach – for example, ranitidine and omeprazole.
Hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion
Hydrocortisone cream is a mild steroid cream. Steroids reduce inflammation. Hydrocortisone can be bought in pharmacies, to treat dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), insect stings, and eczema. Hydrocortisone cream should not be used on the face unless your doctor has told you to do so.
Calamine lotion is soothing and cooling for inflamed or itchy skin.
Other useful items
It is worth keeping a variety of plasters, a crepe bandage, a triangular bandage, a support stocking bandage, a pair of tweezers, and some antiseptic cream to treat minor cuts, grazes, and sprains.
Your pharmacist is a good source of advice and information.
Also, see www.medicine-chest.co.uk for details of all medicines that you can buy in the UK.
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