I got sick in Japan! And now? - Cold and Flu


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The 2 main diseases in Japan are the cold and the flu. The flu means that you can take the day off from work. But if you catch a cold, you are expected to do everything a normal person does wearing a mask. In this article we will understand a little about colds, flu and allergies in Japan. If you are sick we will see how to deal with them.

Anything other than a strong flu that takes you to bed is called kaze (風邪) which can be translated as a cold. When the flu is quite strong they use the katakana word Infuruenza (インフルエンザ) which can literally be translated as influenza and flu. There are other diseases that can be mistaken for colds and flu like the famous pollen allergy called kafunsho.

Catching a cold in Japan is easy, due to the different temperatures that change radically. The Japanese also venture into this change in temperature when entering onsen and when using air conditioning indoors and going out in the heat of the street. Even when getting on and off a train or station, you are subject to this temperature change that can leave you cold.

Doente resfriado gripe no japão

I'm sick - Doctor and buying drugs

Most jobs and school require the person to present a certificate to prove their flu or illness. Be prepared to make an appointment and pay a fee of 5000 yen. This to get a maximum of 3 days off. Sometimes you need to take days off from your vacation to rest if you didn't get a doctor's note.

Upon arriving at the doctor's appointment, the Doctor will do some experiments like putting a cotton swab in your nose. After rubbing the swab on your nose and putting it in a solution for 5 minutes it will determine the type of flu you have caught and thus recommend the remedies.

Doctors love to give seasonal flu the strange names that make you think you have a serious illness, they even talk about which country that flu came from. The medicines used to fight the flu and cold in Japan usually come in powder form in small packages where you should swallow and drink water.

If you have not been to the doctor and need flu or cold remedies, you can find these powdered remedies at most pharmacies. Just arrive at the location and ask for kaze no kusuri (風邪の薬). And if your throat is inflamed you can ask for node in the kusuri (喉の薬).

They can also sell pill remedies, it is worth remembering that many pills in Japan are weak and the recommendation is to take more than 1 at the same time. They are done this way to avoid cutting pills in half or taking too many with the intention of suicide. When I was sick in Japan, a friend gave me a medicine called paburon (パブロン).

Doente resfriado gripe no japão

I have a cold and flu in Japan, now what?

When you're sure you're sick, the steps are to take the medicine until it gets better. People will consider you with the flu if you have a very high fever and are vomiting. For some reason vomiting = flu.  

If you are not about to die of fever in bed, then you have a cold. This means that you can continue your life normally using a mask.

The Japanese use masks to avoid catching or passing illnesses and also due to allergies. If you have a cold, you should wear masks that are found at any convenience store.

Others even use the mask to gain sympathy at work and receive lighter services. Remember not to reuse disposable masks, and always change them when they are wet. Avoid touching the mask and remember that when changing it, wash your hands with soap and alcohol.

Doente resfriado gripe no japão

Another thing you can do to treat this cold is to immerse yourself in a hot tub or even an onsen. Hot water keeps your body warm and relaxes you. It is recommended to stay at home if you are not feeling well, always follow the information from doctors.

Finally, let's leave a list of words that can help you:

the flu風邪kaze
Headache頭痛atamaga itai
sore throat喉が痛いnodoga itai
muscle pain筋肉痛kinnikutsuu
stomach painおなかがいたいonakagaitai
joint pain関節痛kansetsutsuu
mucus or phlegmたんtan
nasal congestion鼻ずまりhana zumari
burning eyes目の痛みme on itami