When you’re in a SHTF situation, the last thing you need to deal with is pain on top of everything else. From increased activity that most of us aren’t used to—chopping wood, traveling by foot, and tending to a full-scale garden, for starters—to lack of medical treatment if a new injury occurs or an old injury is aggravated, having effective painkillers in your stockpile is a must for any prepper.
The bad news is that obtaining painkillers from a doctor (especially for a “just in case” situation) is almost impossible, because most painkillers are considered controlled substances under federal law.
Because of their addictive nature, most doctors only prescribe these medications when necessary; so, if you do get a prescription for a Schedule II or Schedule III painkiller, it’s likely that your injuries were so serious that you needed the entire prescription and would not have had any left to keep for a SHTF scenario.
Some preppers try to circumvent prescription restrictions by ordering medications online. Because these sellers are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, taking these types of medications can be dangerous.
Without regulations, consumers can never be certain what kind of nasty surprise ingredients might be lurking in their pills.
The good news is that there are effective and inexpensive over-the-counter medications that you can easily stockpile for a worst-case scenario. Readily available at most pharmacies, these medications can tackle just about any type of pain:
Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter medication that can help relieve many types of pain and a variety of pain-related symptoms. This wonder drug can help you eradicate pain from toothaches, headaches, arthritis, and muscle aches related to the common cold or flu.
Additionally, because ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) it can help alleviate fevers and swelling, in addition to pain.
Ibuprofen can also be used in conjunction with other medications to maximize pain relief. A recent study reported in the American Family Physician Journal found that ibuprofen plus acetaminophen was just as effective in relieving extremity pain as three different commonly used opioid and acetaminophen combinations.
The recommended dosage for ages 12 years and older is 400 milligrams every four to six hours as needed. It’s always best to take ibuprofen with food, as it can be an irritant on an empty stomach.
Acetaminophen (known as paracetamol in Europe) treats the same types of pain that ibuprofen does—headaches, toothaches, backaches, muscle aches, and others—but in a different way. This drug belongs to a class of medications called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers).
While it is great for pain, unlike ibuprofen acetaminophen doesn’t target swelling and inflammation. On the other hand, acetaminophen is less irritating to your digestive system; if you are someone who suffers from ulcers, for instance, you may want to try acetaminophen first.
A word of caution: according to Harvard Health Publishing, over 600 different types of medication contain some amount of acetaminophen, and overdoses can easily occur when combining tablets with other common medications such as cough or cold medicines.
It is recommended that adults not exceed 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period, to avoid damage to the liver and overdose risk.
Aspirin has some of the benefits of both ibuprofen and acetaminophen; it’s great for reducing fever, swelling, and pain from a variety of conditions such as headaches and the common cold.
In addition to being a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug aspirin belongs to a class of drugs called salicylates, which block natural substances in your body to reduce pain. The use of salicylates (which are derived from willow bark) dates back to 400 BCE when the Ancient Greeks chewed willow bark for pain relief.
As the most commonly used drug in the world, the wide availability of aspirin makes it an easy medication to add to your emergency preparations. Another reason aspirin is a great medication for your stockpile is that research suggests low doses can prevent blood clots, thereby reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
However, not everyone can take aspirin; children, hemophiliacs and those with conditions of the digestive system should avoid taking it.
Lidocaine is another wonderful multi-purpose over-the-counter drug. It has many uses, comes in many different forms, and is available under a variety of brand names. As a local anesthetic, lidocaine prevents pain by blocking the signals at the nerve endings in the skin.
As such, it provides fast and long-lasting pain relief; according to WoundSource (the definitive source of wound care information for professionals) within four minutes of application sensation is reduced, and the effects can last up to six hours depending on the dosage, making it ideal for reducing pain in a wound.
Lidocaine viscous topical treatment is great for sore mouths or throats. In its topical ointment or jelly forms it can be applied just about anywhere externally, causing numbness to combat the pain associated with minor burns, insect stings, poison ivy, poison oak, and cuts.
Other Over-The-Counter Medications For Pain In SHTF
- Pain-relieving patches and gels
- Sunburn relief spray
- Burn cream
- Stomach pain relief products
- Children’s ibuprofen/acetaminophen
While all of these medications are great options for pain relief, they lose their efficacy over time: these painkillers don’t “expire,” but they do weaken.
If the medications are stored improperly, or exposed to too much moisture, the decrease in their effectiveness will accelerate. To ensure that your painkillers are at their best, keep them stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and avoid exposing them to moisture.
As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You can reduce your likelihood of painful injuries in SHTF situations by becoming more active and beginning to do the activities—such as chopping wood, walking long distances, and carrying heavy objects—now so that the possibility of injury later is reduced.
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