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How To Shop For Over-The-Counter Medicine: Buying Guide

Life comes with plenty of everyday aches and pains, whether that's a headache after a long day at the office, or a sprain from playing soccer a little too enthusiastically. Whatever it is, you can treat small medical issues on your own with the help of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine and the advice of a licensed medical professional.

OTC medications are any medication or drug you can buy without a prescription. They are generally available near the pharmacy section of retailers and would look at home in any medicine cabinet. Over-the-counter drugs include things like pain relievers, cold and flu medication, allergy medication, and other basic first aid treatments. It's good to have them around the house in case of small medical emergencies and the general health care needs of your household.

It can also be a good idea to keep some types of OTC medication in other places you frequent, such as your office or gym locker. You never know when a hard workout or a bad meeting will inspire a localized pain or inflamed joint. Then you'll always have the pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or Band-Aid you need to continue your day as happy and healthy as possible.

When you're ready to stock your personal medicine cabinet, whether at home or elsewhere in your life, Sam's Club is pleased to offer a wide variety of over-the-counter medication to keep your medicine cabinet stocked and ready.

What Different Types of Over-The-Counter Medicine Are There?

There are a wide variety of over-the-counter medicines, each with a different purpose. It's important to know what type of small health issue you want to treat to ensure you're taking the right medication. For example, you wouldn't want to take allergy medication for a chest infection, and you wouldn't take a sleep aid to help with an upset stomach. Different types of OTC products include:

  • Pain relief: Some over-the-counter pain relievers include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. They are low-dosage and non-habit forming, meant to help with short-term aches and pains.
  • Allergy and sinus: Over-the-counter allergy and sinus medication is generally geared toward those with seasonal allergies and comes in the form of cetirizine, Benadryl, and loratadine. These OTC medicines come in pill form, dissolvable tablets, or nasal spray.
  • Cold, cough, and flu: Cough medicine is usually a combination of decongestant and pain reliever. Depending on whether or not you need the daytime or nighttime version, it may also contain a sleep aid.
  • Sleep aids: Whether natural like melatonin, or a drug like diphenhydramine, a sleep aid will help you drift off for a restful night's sleep.
  • Digestion and nausea: Milk of magnesia in liquid or tablet form, or a general antacid can help with symptoms from indigestion or nausea.
  • Smoking cessation aids: Since there are so many different types of ways to quit smoking, you should consult with your doctor before choosing a smoking cessation aid. Most over-the-counter smoking cessation aids dish out small amounts of nicotine in a gradual dose to help you wean off smoking.
  • First aid: Other over-the-counter types of first aid include bandaids and antibiotic ointments for various cuts and scrapes.

What to Consider When Buying Over-The-Counter Medicine

Even though you can buy over-the-counter medicine without a doctor's prescription, you should be intentional and cautious when purchasing new medicine. All OTC drugs on the market are approved by the Food and Drug Administration before being sold, but that doesn't mean every medication is a good fit for every individual. There are several key factors you should consider while stocking your medicine cabinet:

  • Purpose of medicine: Some over-the-counter medications can be used for multiple purposes. That being said, you should know why you're taking the medication and what it's meant to treat.
  • Frequency and quantity of medicine: Knowing how frequently you're going to take over-the-counter medication can help you to know what size of package or bottle you should purchase.
  • Dosage amount: The same type of medication can come in different dosage amounts, so be sure you check the drug information and your doctor's instructions before purchasing.
  • Length of use: Again, knowing how long you're going to take an over-the-counter medication at the recommended dosage and frequency will help you know which package or bottle to stock in your medicine cabinet.
  • Side effects: Some over-the-counter medicines have side effects that can lead to more serious issues. Knowing what these side effects are is important so you can watch for them and discuss any symptoms with your doctor.
  • Allergies: You should never take medication you are allergic to.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: Any pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy or risk of heart failure should be considered when purchasing over-the-counter medication. Consult with your doctor to be sure you're using medicine that keeps you safe and healthy.
  • Interactions with other medications: Some drugs can react with one another to create side effects or dangerous conditions. By checking the active ingredients in OTC medicines, you can check to see if different prescriptions and over-the-counter medications will interact.
  • Price: Be sure you're keeping your over-the-counter medications within your budget. Generic or store-brand versions of helpful drugs are often available at a lower cost.
  • Shelf-life: Expired medications may not work or may cause painful side effects. Be sure you check the expiration date of your over-the-counter medicine before taking and replace any that are expired.

What Brands of Over-The-Counter Medicine Does Sam's Club Sell?

Sam's Club is thrilled to offer our members quality over-the-counter medicine brands like:

  • Halls
  • Tylenol
  • Member's Mark
  • Flonase
  • Pepto Bismol
  • NyQuil
  • Nicorette
  • Band-Aid

FAQ - Over-The-Counter Medicine

What is medicine used for?

Medicine is meant to help you live your healthiest and happiest life, whether it's helping with a headache or easing symptoms from more long-term conditions.

What are the types of medicine?

There are prescription medicines or prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines or nonprescription drugs, and natural or homeopathic remedies.

What are some over-the-counter medicines?

Different types of over-the-counter medicine include allergy and sinus, pain relievers, and cold and cough.

What is the best over-the-counter medicine?

Sam's Club is thrilled to offer our members a variety of over-the-counter medications from several high-quality brands.

What medicine should I keep in a first aid kit?

You should consider keeping basic pain relievers and anti-nausea medications in your first aid kit - drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and milk of magnesia.

What is the best over-the-counter cough medicine?

Over-the-counter cough medicines contain decongestants, anti-histamines, and sleep-aids to help you heal from a chest or respiratory infection.

What is a good over-the-counter nausea medicine?

When looking for an OTC medication to address your nausea or upset stomach, you should look for medicines that contain bismuth subsalicylate or dimenhydrinate.