The winter colds, viruses and chest infections are doing the rounds here in Spain, just as they are in the UK. However, we’re lucky over here in that we have an abundance of cheap natural remedies, as well as a fast track to antibiotics should we need them. While these illnesses can be very debilitating, they don’t have to be too uncomfortable if you know what to do.
Prevention is always better than cure, and winter in Spain is orange and lemon season, so start each day with a large glass of fresh orange juice, or the juice of half a lemon in hot water to up your vitamin C content. And eat plenty of the lovely fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system and help you fight off infections.
If despite all this you should succumb to a cold, flu, viral infection or chest infection, try a rounded teaspoon of honey and the juice of half a lemon in hot water to soothe that cough or sore throat. Some studies say that this remedy is more effective than many over the counter cough medicines, and with lemons being so cheap and plentiful and a huge variety of different types of honey available in the markets and supermarkets, it’s easily accessible. Take at least twice a day – particularly late at night to help you sleep.
If you don’t feel like eating much, make up a large pan of fresh vegetable soup. It will slip down so much more easily than solid food, and again, there is a wide choice of fresh seasonal produce on the markets to tempt jaded appetites. Add some garlic too – it has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and will help boost your immune system.
In many pharmacies in Spain, the pharmacists are authorised to diagnose and treat minor ailments and illnesses, so if your symptoms don’t improve after a few days, or you’re having problems clearing mucus from your chest, head along to your local farmacia and ask for advice. Usually, the pharmacist will ask about your symptoms before prescribing either expectorant medicine or antibiotics, should they be necessary to treat your condition.
In many outlets, antibiotics can be purchased over the counter, but run your symptoms past the pharmacist so they can decide if you need them, as taking them unnecessarily could build up antibiotic resistance. In any case, if your illness is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help.
Many antibiotics and cough and cold remedies in Spain are stronger than anything you may be used to in your home country, so be sure to tell the pharmacist if you are taking any prescribed medication that may react with other drugs. And even though they may be stronger, you still need to finish the course to be sure you recover completely.
If your symptoms don’t respond to treatment within a few days, you may need to see a doctor, but the effective Spanish cold remedies and antibiotics, plus a few spells in the winter sunshine when it’s warm enough, should soon see you back to the best of health. In the meantime, keep warm and keep your fluid intake up to prevent dehydration, which may exacerbate your symptoms.