5 Essential Medications You Should Have in Your Home for Emergencies

Having these 5 essential medications at home can help you stay healthy.

A woman using medicine
A woman using medicine

No one wants to be ill.

But sometimes you find yourself battling one or two minor illnesses like headaches, body pains, or cough. It's estimated that 96% of people experience a headache at some point in their lives.

That is why having certain medications at home can help you maintain good health. They can get rid of these minor illnesses without you having to visit the hospital.

Here are 5 essential medicines you need in your home cabinet:

Paracetamol Tablets (500mg)
500mg Paracetamol Tablets


Paracetamol is an important medication that you can use to treat mild pain, fever, and inflammation. This medication is safe and effective when you take it as directed.

Paracetamol is available in tablet, capsule, or liquid forms for oral administration.

It’s also available in a suppository form that you can use through the rectum. But when you want to take it rectally, there’s no need to crush or dissolve it before inserting them into your bum. Slowly push it into your anus with your finger and ensure that it stays.

When should you take paracetamol?

Any time of the day.

How much paracetamol can you take?

The recommended dose for adults is 500 milligrammes (mg) every 4-6 hours, up to a maximum of 4 grammes (g) per day (i.e, 8 tablets of 500 mg).

Common side effects

Using a regular dose of paracetamol is safe, but harmful side effects can occur because of overdosing. Some of these include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rashes, or itching
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, or face
  • Breathing problems
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Pain Management Medications

Contains painkillers designed to suit your health needs.


Anti-Inflammatory Medicines (Ibuprofen)

Anti-inflammatory medication refers to a class of drugs used to treat inflammation–swelling, pain, or a feeling of heat in an area of the body–which is your immune reaction to an irritant.  

The most common type of anti-inflammatory medicine is ibuprofen. It works by preventing the production of prostaglandins, which are substances that play a role in pain and inflammation. This action helps to reduce pain, swelling and fever.

Ibuprofen is available in tablets, capsules, liquids, granules, sprays, and gels.

When should you take Ibuprofen?

Any time of the day.

How much Ibuprofen can you take?

The amount to be taken depends on your condition and the type of Ibuprofen available to you.

However, the recommended dose is one or two 200 mg tablets or capsules thrice daily. If you need a higher dose, your doctor may prescribe 600 mg four times a day.

Note: You should not use more than 800 mg per dose or 3200 mg per day (4 maximum doses).

Common side effects:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash or itching
  • Blurred vision
  • Stomach upset
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating and gas.

More serious side effects can occur, but are rare. These include ulcers, bleeding and perforation of the stomach or intestines.

A woman with allergic reaction
A woman having allergic symptoms


Histamines are chemical substances your immune system produces in response to an irritant. However, their levels can become too high, which can lead to allergy symptoms like sneezing, itching, and watery eyes.

Antihistamines are drugs you can use to prevent or block the action of histamine to relieve you of these symptoms.

There are two types of antihistamines: first-generation and second-generation.

First-generation antihistamines are very effective at relieving allergy symptoms, but can cause drowsiness and other side effects. While second-generation antihistamines are less likely to cause drowsiness, they may not be as effective in relieving symptoms.

Antihistamines are available as capsules, tablets, liquids, and injections.

When should you take antihistamines?

This depends on the type of antihistamines you have.

However, it’s advisable to use first-generation antihistamines when you’re about to go to bed, because they cause drowsiness.

How many antihistamines should you take?

The amount you can take depends on the strength of the medication you have. Also, the dosage, the interval between doses, and the duration of treatment depend on the allergies you’re using it for.

If you have mild allergy symptoms, a first-generation antihistamine may be all you need. But if your symptoms are more severe or occur daily, you may need a second-generation antihistamine.

Common side effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Urinary retention

Note:  When choosing an antihistamine, it’s important to consider the severity of your symptoms and whether you need relief for just a short period or daily.

A woman having stomach pain
Woman having stomach pain


Antacids are medications used to treat or prevent stomach acidity.

They work by neutralising stomach acid by absorbing it and preventing it from coming back up the oesophagus. This reduces symptoms of heartburn or its future occurrence.

It can also relieve you of indigestion, stomach ulcers, and other types of stomach discomfort.

These medications come as tablets, capsules, liquids, or gels.

When should you take antacids?

You can take antacids when you experience heartburn or indigestion. It can also be taken before a meal or activity that causes a backflow of stomach acid.

How many antacids should you take?

Since antacids are available in different forms, it’s advisable to follow the direction of the particular type you have.

However, when taking liquid antacids, ensure you shake the container well before using.

Common Side effects:

  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Vomiting
A person having difficulty stooling
Using the toilet

Constipation Medicines

Constipation occurs when you find it hard to pass stool (poo), or when your stool is hard and dry. This can lead to bloating, discomfort, and pain.

Therefore, it’s essential to have medications readily available when this situation arises.

Constipation medicines can come in different forms with various functions, they include:

  • Laxatives: These medications work by softening the stool and making it easier to pass.
  • Enemas: These are used to flush out the rectum and colon.
  • Gastrointestinal cleanses: These are special diets or supplements that cleanse the digestive system.
  • Probiotics: These are live microorganisms that can help restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut. They are available in supplement form or in some yoghurts and fermented foods.

When should you take constipation medicines?

If you feel constipated, you can take laxatives or probiotics anytime.

It's advisable to only use enemas and gastrointestinal cleanses when other methods have not worked.

How should you take constipation medicines?

  • Laxatives and probiotics can be taken orally with water.
  • Enemas should be used as directed on the package.
  • Gastrointestinal cleanses may require special instructions, so be sure to follow the directions on the package.

Note: It's important to drink plenty of fluids when taking any of these medications, as they can cause dehydration.

Common side effects

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramps
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Final Thoughts

A well-stocked home medicine cabinet is key to staying healthy in the event of a minor illness or injury.

By having these essential medications on hand, you can treat common ailments and get back to feeling better sooner. However, it’s important to remember that not all medications are safe for everyone.

Be sure to check with a care specialist to be certain a medication is safe for you. And always remember that having these medications at home doesn’t mean you should use them at will.

Get a FREE consultation with a dedicated care specialist to create your personalised essential medication list.