Wednesday 2 March 2011

Expat Pharmacy

Being sick isn't fun anywhere, but trust me when I say that being sick in the UK is worse than being sick in America... and not just because you don't have your mom to take pity on you and come rushing around with a care package.

Many expats report being sick frequently after they make the move.  For me, it was at least once a month for my entire first year.  My doctor was unsympathetic and blamed it on "new" germs and acclimation to the climate, but when I was suffering from expat flu, I blamed it the public bus I had to take to get to work before I became comfortable driving.   Did you know people who rely on public transportation are six times more likely to come down with a respiratory infection than those who dont?    (Reason #76 why, unless you live in London, learning to drive should be on the top of your to do list!)

Anyway.... whatever the actual reason, you will get sick sooner or later and hopefully the worst you will suffer is a sniffle and a sneeze here and there, but for the real heavy duty colds, I suggest you plan ahead and create an "expat pharmacy kit". Bring it with you when you move (or when you next go back to visit), keep it in a safe place, and do not be tempted to share it with the natives when they claim they are sick.  This is a survival kit.

Your kit should include the following:
Puffs Plus.
Don't Leave Home Without 'em

A thermometer - Yes, you can get these anywhere, but they will tell you your temperature in celcius and who wants to be doing mathmatical conversions when you have a fever??

Puffs Plus - You know, the kind with lotion infused in the tissue?  That's what you want.  Your nose will thank me

NyQuil - Don't believe it when someone tells you an inferior product called Night Nurse is just the same. It isn't. Each have three active ingredients (a pain reliever, an antihistamine and a cough suppressant), but share only one common active ingredient. I'm happy to have saved you the disappointment.

 Aleve-D Cold and Sinus - Only bother with this if you, like me, are partial to naproxen as your pain relief of choice.  As far as I know, there is no naproxen/pseudoephedrine combination available in the UK.

And remember kids - listen to your friendly NHS when they say Catch It, Bin It, Kill It. Good advice if you can get over "that" photo.


  1. I always stock up in the US! I always need manager approval to make sure I'm not a junkie...

  2. I brought Nyquil with me to Korea as well. I'm so happy I did as there is no equivalent here. It really is the stuff of the Gods:)

  3. Motrin too - they don't sell that here.

    You're so right about the thermometer.

    We thought my son had broken his nose (a second time) and hesitated to take him to the doctor. I'm sure they have good care, but it still makes us nervous.

    Expat flu - I haven't heard that before but I like it :)

  4. i am a fairly recent follower and fellow expat. i live in greece, but can relate to many of your stories and frustrations. i had to add benadryl to your list. at least here, there is no such equivalent. i also bring multivitamins from home, as they cost a ridiculous amount here!!!! we just had our first baby, and i brought absolutely every baby medicine imaginable from home, as at least i know what they are. i was not about to trust in whatever random product the pharmacist gave me here for a baby!!!!

  5. I have some of these things already to go in the suitcase in 16 days for you! Did anyone send you a package? So I don't bring repeats...

  6. Ohh good post! Reminds me I am almost out of Advil and should have my friend add this to my little list for when she comes.
    As for Nyquil? Yes I almost paid 15 pounds for a little bottle online when I was super sick in September. Night or Day Nurse = Joke. I would have killed to have Nyquil.