Content provided by Dr. Siyu Yan, M.D. at SinoUnited Health.
Local pharmacies are easily accessible in China. You may find commonly used Western medications with an equivalent Chinese brand in the majority of pharmacies.
At Chinese local pharmacies, medications are normally sorted by systems. For example, you are likely to find antiacid medications in the digestive health section. In terms of their names, normally there are two names on each package, a brand name and a generic name. The generic name refers to the active ingredient.
Treating A Cold
Compound cold medications are commonly used. They can be helpful as they target multiple systems at once, and, hence, relieve many symptoms. For example, Bufferin Cold (日夜百服宁 rì yè bǎi fú níng), New Contact (新康泰克 xīn kāng tài kè), or ‘White and Black' (白加黑 bái jiā hēi) in Chinese are commonly used for runny nose, headache, and other cold-like symptoms.
These medications are a combination of Paracetamol (扑热息痛 pū rè xī tòng), an antihistamine (抗组胺药 kàng zǔ ān yào), and Codeine (可待因 kě dài yīn). Paracetamol treats fever, headaches, and muscle pains, the antihistamine stops the runny nose, and Codeine suppresses the cough. Of course, these medications are available separately, if you want to focus on specific symptoms.
Different kinds of cough syrup are also available in China. Pei Pa Koa (枇杷膏 pí pá gāo) is a traditional Chinese herbal coughing syrup and can be used for cough and sore throat. It can provide some comfort by taking it, but may not be able to stop the cough immediately. Ambroxol cough syrup (盐酸氨溴索糖浆 yán suān ān xiù suǒ táng jiāng) is another popular one as an expectorant. For those who are troubled with a cough, it is recommended to visit a doctor first, as different coughing medicines work differently. Therefore, not all of them are suitable for you.
For sore throats, local residents have many herbal remedies such as lozenges. They can help soothe irritation and provide relief. Brands like Golden Throat (金嗓子喉片 jīn sǎng zi hóu piàn), and Xi Gua Shuang (西瓜霜 xī guā shuāng) are widely available. Additionally, you can also get chlorhexidine solution (醋酸氯己定溶液 cù suān lǜ jǐ dìng róng yè) to gargle.
The generic names for two commonly used painkillers are Paracetamol (扑热息痛 pū rè xī tòng) and Ibuprofen (布洛芬 bù luò fēn). Paracetamol, or Acetaminophen (对乙酰氨基酚 duì yǐ xiān ān jī fēn), can be found in many compound cold medicines. The action includes controlling the pain, reducing the body temperature, and assisting with headaches, sore throat, and many other pains and aches. Tylenol (泰诺 tài nuò) is a brand name of such medicines that you can find in Chinese.
Another group of painkillers is known as anti-inflammatories, including Ibuprofen, Naproxen (萘普生 nài pǔ shēng), and so on. These are effective as painkillers and are especially effective for period pains, joint pains, and muscle pains. They can also be used to settle fever. The popular brand name for Ibuprofen is Fenbid (芬必得 fēn bì dé) in China. However, these should not be used for stomach pains because they might worsen it. In general, it is advised to take these medications with or after food.
For commonly used medications for the digestive system, there are also antacids such as Talcid (铝碳酸镁片 lǚ tàn suān měi piàn), and anti-diarrhea medications such as Smecta (思密达蒙脱石散 sī mì dá méng tuō shí sàn), or Berberine (盐酸小檗碱 yán suān xiǎo bò jiǎn or 黄连素 huáng lián sù) which is made of Chinese herbal ingredients.
You may also find anti-histamines and nasal sprays at Chinese pharmacists. There are oral medications including Zyrtec (仙特明 xiān tè míng 盐酸西替利嗪滴剂 yán suān xī tì lì qín dī jì) and Clarityne (开瑞坦 kāi ruì tǎn 氯雷他定片 lǜ léi tā dìng piàn) in China and both of them are anti-histamines. Anti-histamines work well with hay fevers or mild allergies. Other treatments that may help include nasal washes and nasal sprays. For example, you could use a seawater nasal wash (生理性海水鼻腔喷雾 shēng lǐ xìng hǎi shuǐ bí qiāng pēn wù) to wash off the nasal discharge twice a day. After that, use a medicated nasal spray to help control the symptoms of nose discomfort and blocked nose. These include Nasonex (内舒拿 neì shū ná 糠酸莫米松鼻喷雾剂 kāng suān mò mǐ sōng bí pēn wù jì), Budesonide (布地奈德鼻喷雾剂 bù dì nài dé bí pēn wù jì), or Fluticasone nasal sprays (糠酸氟替卡松鼻用喷雾剂 kāng suān fú tì kǎ sōng bí yòng pēn wù jì).
It is a good habit to organize commonly used medications and medical equipment into a medical kit at home. However, the contents of your medical kit depend on the situation.
If you need a medical kit to cover potential injury, such as if you go rock climbing or hiking, you could add Iodine solution (碘伏 diǎn fú) and medical alcohol (医用消毒酒精 yī yòng xiāo dú jiǔ jīng) for sterilizing open wounds, and some gauze and bandages to stop bleeding or to stop circulation if you are bitten by a snake.
If you are going to travel, you might need medications for diarrhea (止泻药 zhǐ xiè yào), motion sickness (晕车药 yūn chē yào), and fever (退烧药 tuì shāo yào). You will also need a thermometer (体温计 tǐ wēn jì). If you are going swimming or diving, you may need vinegar for jellyfish stings, as well as a first aid kit for wounds.
For those who have blood pressure issues or chronic conditions, it is also suggested to have a blood pressure machine (血压计 xuè yā jì) at home. It can be used to check your blood pressure when having a headache, light-headedness, or any body discomfort.
In terms of oral medications, above mentioned commonly used ones may be a choice to put in your medical kit. However, in any medical kit, it is important to check the dates of medications for expiry. Before you plan any activity, check the contents of your medical kit and replace any expired medications.
All the Mentioned Medicines in the Article
New Contact (新康泰克 xīn kāng tài kè)
‘White and Black' (白加黑 bái jiā hēi)
Paracetamol (扑热息痛 pū rè xī tòng)
Antihistamine (抗组胺药 kàng zǔ ān yào)
Codeine (可待因 kě dài yīn)
Pei Pa Koa (枇杷膏 pí pá gāo)
Ambroxol cough syrup (盐酸氨溴索糖浆 yán suān ān xiù suǒ táng jiāng)
Golden Throat (金嗓子喉片 jīn sǎng zi hóu piàn)
Xi Gua Shuang (西瓜霜 xī guā shuāng)
chlorhexidine solution (醋酸氯己定溶液 cù suān lǜ jǐ dìng róng yè)
Ibuprofen (布洛芬 bù luò fēn)
Acetaminophen (对乙酰氨基酚 duì yǐ xiān ān jī fēn)
Tylenol (泰诺 tài nuò)
Naproxen (萘普生 nài pǔ shēng)
Fenbid (芬必得 fēn bì dé)
Talcid (铝碳酸镁片 lǚ tàn suān měi piàn)
Smecta (思密达蒙脱石散 sī mì dá méng tuō shí sàn)
Berberine (盐酸小檗碱 yán suān xiǎo bò jiǎn or 黄连素 huáng lián sù)
Zyrtec (仙特明 xiān tè míng 盐酸西替利嗪滴剂 yán suān xī tì lì qín dī jì)
Clarityne (开瑞坦 kāi ruì tǎn 氯雷他定片 lǜ léi tā dìng piàn)
Seawater nasal wash (生理性海水鼻腔喷雾 shēng lǐ xìng hǎi shuǐ bí qiāng pēn wù)
Nasonex (内舒拿 neì shū ná 糠酸莫米松鼻喷雾剂 kāng suān mò mǐ sōng bí pēn wù jì)
Budesonide (布地奈德鼻喷雾剂 bù dì nài dé bí pēn wù jì)
Fluticasone nasal sprays (糠酸氟替卡松鼻用喷雾剂 kāng suān fú tì kǎ sōng bí yòng pēn wù jì)
Lodine solution (碘伏 diǎn fú)
Medical alcohol (医用消毒酒精 yī yòng xiāo dú jiǔ jīng)
Medications for diarrhea (止泻药 zhǐ xiè yào)
Medications for motion sickness (晕车药 yūn chē yào)
Medications for fever (退烧药 tuì shāo yào)
Thermometer (体温计 tǐ wēn jì)
Blood pressure machine (血压计 xuè yā jì)
About the Author:
Dr. Siyu Yan, M.D.
Chief of SinoUnited Health New Bund Clinic, General Practitioner
Dr. Yan has many years of clinical experience in Emergency medicine and Internal medicine in Australia. She has worked in several major tertiary hospitals in Australia, including St George Hospital in Sydney. She is skilled in the management of common chronic conditions, preventative medicine, cancer screening, and counseling, as well as urgent wound care. Dr. Yan also has a special interest in women's health and she promotes a holistic care approach to patients.
SinoUnited Health is a leading medical service provider based in Shanghai. Until now, SUH has established itself with hospitals and clinics in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and so on. Our team of medical specialists is selected from both China and abroad, who are renowned for their excellence and rich experience in their respective fields of medical expertise, and is also a major feature of "Physician-Driven" that makes SUH different. We have adopted the GP + Specialist care model to establish better patient-doctor relationships and to enable more effective and convenient medical treatment experiences. Meanwhile, with world-class international resources, we aim to provide all patients with high-quality medical service. Our vision is to be one of the best healthcare providers in China by strictly adhering to medical practice guidelines, incorporating the latest technologies, and respecting patient's individual needs.