Being Sick in China – My Dilemma

Being Sick in China – My Dilemma
darkstar1 Apr 18, 2013 12:27


Being sick in China sucks. Well, being sick anywhere sucks really; but when we’re hit by a barrage of headaches or a nasty cold it seems that the symptoms and the road to recovery are somewhat more magnified than they would be elsewhere.


I’m currently struck down with a ruthless cold that has left me at 50% for the past week or so, and I presume it came from the few bugs that are floating around as spring comes in and the pollen is released from flowers. It’s not just a normal cold though – as it’s brought on full-blown heavy headaches, lethargy, and just an all-round feeling of roughness as opposed to just a runny nose. It hasn’t grown to the extent of leaving me incapacitated enough to take days off work, but it’s still not ideal nonetheless.


My dilemma is such – do I take it easy, avoid the beer, get some early nights and hope it cures itself, or do I take the path down the road of Chinese medicine and ingest countless pills and tabs of all shapes and sizes that amount to my bodyweight? Medicine is cheap here, and the amount of pharmacies on my street would suggest that the medicine culture in China isn’t without its benefits. On the other hand, I’ve heard nasty stories about chemicals being used, as well as nasty side effects, and am just generally not too keen on flooding my body with pills in a way that amount to my body being a walking talking incarnation of the Periodic Table.


Like many of you, I’ve been sick here before; whether it be bouts of food poisoning or pollution induced coughs, but with those they’re often intense and fleeting and I know what I know what I’m going through. This cold has me swinging between heading down the pharmacy to pick up some meds and just holding out and hope I get better naturally. The latter is what I’d prefer to do, though if this cold doesn’t pack up soon I may have to take a trip down chemical lane soon enough. For a nation who seem obsessed with medicine it does suggest that pills here aren’t too bad, though you never know.

Perhaps I’m just too stubborn and like to think my immune system as strong enough to get through this cold without the aid of medicine; and I have always held the belief that medicine should be a last resort for only serious bugs or flu or whatever. Still, the pack of Lemsip – the hot paracetamol drink that soothes cold symptoms-that I brought back from my last trip back home has been devoured and perhaps I am left with no other option. What do you think? What are your experiences with Chinese medicine? Comments are more than welcome.

Tags:Expat Rants & Advice Health & Environment


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Just don't get sick. Protect your immune system. Not everyone has that kind of money to shell out for anything less than a VIP room at the hospital. Due to diagnosing the problem is often critical to ones feeling better, self-diagnoses is your best friend. Keep eating the crushed garlic, curries, lemon-teas, honey, liquids, balan ke li, raw ginger boiled up in water, Q10 oil for circulation, chinese herbal teas from Chinese medicine, such as qi pills, and last, but not least, some basic qi movements, stretches, santuary and exercises, especially in changing weather. Although I am exaggerating a little, I have never seen a doctor in twenty years, they, like a shot of vinegar before a heart attack, can save or sink your life or ship.

Apr 22, 2013 21:59 Report Abuse


I agree two times I avoided treatment and ended up paying out 2,000 a pop for medicines and drips every day. I was almost dead twice lol, my girlfriend came to save me twice.

Apr 21, 2013 02:58 Report Abuse


I have recently recovered from a very similar thing that you describe. However I went with the immune system option, trying to allow my body to recover on it's own. This was a stupid idea as the end result was two weeks of feeling very sick, then ending up in hospital after my roommate found me passed out on the floor. Like you I tried to push through with my work, taking what meds I brought from my country and drinking plenty of water. I agree with Guest314114, after three days in hospital on a drip, I recovered very quickly. Had I taken this choice earlier I could have been fixed in a few hours and saved myself 5000RMB in fees from the hospital. Go see a doctor, don't mess with any sickness you get in China, it is not worth it. Take care

Apr 20, 2013 10:01 Report Abuse


Well, perhaps I am timid but I have never bought any Chinese medicine. I have seen what some of those medicines did to my cousins so no, thank you. I usually just drink plenty of water, ingest loads of Vit c, and get plenty of rest. As weird as this may sound, the paracetamol I brought over almost never works in China but ibuprofen does. As for Chinese hospitals, I have this impression that I would leave the hospital more sick than I was before.

Apr 19, 2013 19:25 Report Abuse