Essential Medications to Have at Home

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Essential Medications to Have at Home

Last updated: Thursday, September 22, 2022 | 5 min reading time

Swear by your quick-fixes for a fever, runny nose or aches and pains? While we all desire a speedy recovery, doing so safely is just as important. Here are some essential medicines to have at home.

We've all been there. Splayed on the couch with a fever, the sniffles and a headache, conspiring to ruin a perfectly nice day. While we may reach for familiar quick-fixes in the form of age-old remedies or medications we have lying in our cabinets, are we using them to treat the right conditions? Additionally, how much do we know about what they do and how to use them safely?

Dr Boey Weng Heng, Family Physician at Parkway Shenton delves deeper into the over-the-counter medications for a common cold or fever, and when your condition may need to be evaluated by a doctor so you can recover properly.



Paracetamol. That dependable go-to for whenever you're feeling under the weather.

This medication is specifically used to ease fever, headaches, muscle aches and toothaches. It can come in either tablet form for adults and liquid (syrup) for children.

A note of caution though, paracetamol may be safe but it isn't for everyone. Especially if you already are under medication or have an existing health conditions such as liver or kidney disease. In these instances, check in with your family doctor should you feel unwell and are considering taking paracetamol to ease the symptoms.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)

NSAIDs are fever, pain and inflammation relief medications. These are some of the various types of NSAIDs available from pharmacies:

Points to note:



Antihistamines are drugs that relieve the effects of histamine, a chemical released by the body when it comes into contact with allergy triggers such as dust mites or certain foods.

These histamine effects which we otherwise refer to as allergic reactions can include an itch, runny nose and hives.

Examples of antihistamines include loratadine, chlorpheniramine (piriton) and cetirizine (zyrtec). You may wish to take antihistamines which cause drowsiness such as chlorpheniramine at night to help you sleep.

A note of caution:


The effects of heartburn, abdominal bloatedness and discomfort can be a source of great distress. Enter antacids. They neutralise stomach acid to provide much needed relief to these symptoms.

Examples of antacids include magnesium trisilicate (MMT), aluminium hydroxide (antacid) and Gaviscon.

Points to note:

Anti-diarrhoeal medications


Recall that meal that gave you the runs? It may not jog a pleasant memory, but to reign in the symptoms, you may have turned to antidiarrhoeal medications such as loperamide (Imodium), smecta and activated charcoal.

Anti-diarrhoeal medications work in the following ways:

Anti-diarrhoeal medications can be combined with oral rehydration salt if there is any dehydration or loss of fluid in the body caused by the diarrhoea.

Points to note:

Antiseptic cream

Antiseptic creams can be applied on minor cuts or bites which can reduce the chances of the wound getting infected by bacteria. If the cuts or bites worsen, consult your doctor as an antibiotic cream or even oral antibiotics may be needed.

Points to note:

At a glance

Over-the-counter medications can provide relief for ailments when symptoms are mild, provided they are used correctly and safely. Here is an overview of what you should know before taking such medications:

  1. Read the medication's label properly. Follow the recommended dosage, frequency of consumption, how to take the medication, and note its possible side effects.
  2. Do not take medication that is expired.
  3. Check proper dosages for children since this can vary depending on their age and weight.
  4. Keep your medications out of children's reach.
  5. Consult a doctor before taking these medications if you have pre-existing conditions or are allergic to any components in them.
  6. When in doubt, always seek advice from a doctor.

Finally, though symptoms from common conditions may appear mild, it is important to keep track of whether they persist or worsen over time. These are all signals that the issue requires medical intervention. If severe symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, giddiness, or vomiting are experienced, seek urgent medical attention.

Need to see a doctor to help you bounce back from a health concern? Visit a Parkway Shenton clinic near you today!

Paracetamol. Singhealth. Retrieved on 24 August 20222 from

Do I need antihistamines for allergies? WebMD. Retrieved on 24 August 20222 from

Antacids. Healthline. Retrieved on 24 August 20222 from

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Children Homecare