In the middle of the night or on the weekend, which medications should you have at home?
Every year there are new drugs and targeted therapies that are game-changers. But for common ailments patients struggle with, primary care doctors find themselves prescribing many of the same effective prescription medications. Steroid cream for a rash? Anti-nausea medication? Here are nine prescription medications to think about having at home.
1. Zofran (Ondansetron).
Ondansetron is an excellent cheap medication available as an oral dissolvable tablet for nausea and vomiting. Whether you’re struggling with viral gastroenteritis or a food-borne illness, Ondansetron dissolved on the top of the tongue works to improve nausea quickly.
2. Bactroban (Mupirocin) 2% ointment.
Mupirocin ointment requires a prescription. It is an excellent topical antibiotic because it treats common bacterial skin and soft tissue infections, including those caused by MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staph aureus). Mupirocin may help you out for everything from impetigo to infected cuts or bites.
3. Triamcinolone ointment or cream either 0.1% or 0.5%.
Triamcinolone is a good “medium-strength” steroid to consider if over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone (a lower-strength steroid) hasn’t helped. For itching due to eczema, contact dermatitis, or dry skin, you may need something stronger than over-the-counter options. Triamcinolone 0.1% cream comes in a huge 454-gram jar if you need it, and it’s cheap, so your doctor may suggest you turn to it for help.
4. Fluconazole 150 mg tablet.
A single dose of antifungal Fluconazole (Diflucan) will treat most vaginal yeast infections, which may cause itching and vaginal discharge. Diflucan 150 mg single dose is more convenient than antifungal vaginal creams and suppositories, so it is a popular choice for primary care doctors.
5. Tessalon (Benzonatate) capsules for cough.
Sadly, over-the-counter cough medications don’t work any better than placebo. Benzonatate is a non-narcotic cough medication that numbs the airways, air sacs (alveoli), and lining of the lungs (pleura) and helps relieve cough from upper respiratory infections. During the cold and flu season, your doc may suggest a prescription for this.
6. Silvadene (silver sulfadiazine) 1% cream for burns.
Silver sulfadiazine antibiotic cream covered with mesh gauze is a commonly used burn treatment. Silvadene has been around forever, and your doctor may prescribe this to apply once or twice daily, keeping the burned area covered with cream at all times until healing has occurred. Good to have on hand.
7. Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid).
Women with frequent urinary tract infections, particularly those associated with sexual activity, are often prescribed this old-school antibiotic from their doctor. Nitrofurantoin 50 or 100 mg tablet helps for the prevention of UTI when taken within two hours after sexual activity.
8. Methocarbamol (Robaxin) muscle relaxant for neck and back pain.
An inexpensive, less sedating (doesn’t make you sleepy) muscle relaxant, Methocarbamol, may be effective for neck and back pain. Taken as needed, every 6-8 hours, Methocarbamol is a well-tolerated option to add to your NSAID (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil) that your doctor may prescribe.
9. Valtrex (Valacyclovir) 1000 mg tablets.
For women with previous herpes outbreaks, taking Valacyclovir when you feel a sore coming on is something your doctor may discuss with you. There are several regimens, but Valacyclovir 2000 mg twice in 24 hours for herpes lesions reduces the healing time and pain duration.
As always, discuss with your doctor before using any prescription medications. Hope this helps….
I am a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a board-certified Internal Medicine physician. For 20 years I’ve had an active private practice in general internal medicine currently at The Doctors of USC Beverly Hills. I am lucky to spend part of my time as the attending physician for medical students and residents during their rotations at LAC+USC Medical Center. I’ve been a medical advisor on leading health social networking sites including Dailystrength.org and Sharecare and currently serve as the medical advisor and blogger for GoodRx.com, a prescription drug price comparison website, and GoodRx care powered by Hey Doctor.
My philosophy of care centers around seeing things we can see coming, and nailing them head-on. I appreciate the idea of sharing power and responsibility for the choices one makes for prevention, treatment, and investigation into medical problems. My hope is to write blog posts to empower patients to navigate their own health by laying out the ways that medicine can guide you with strategies to investigate, prevent, and treat some common medical issues, big and small.
I have appeared on The Doctors, Fox Sports West, The Ricki Lake Show, as well as many local news outlets and have been featured in numerous online and print publications. I am a fellow of the American College of Physicians and honored to be named “Top Doctor” in Los Angeles and Pasadena Magazine for years.