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Flu on the Camino

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About 3 years ago, I took a 3 month trip to Europe. On the flight into Amsterdam, the stewardess was sneezing and coughing and wiping her nose... then proceeding to hand out sandwiches. Needless to say, 7 days later I came down with a horrible case of the flu while in Rome. It quickly developed into walking pneumonia, mostly because I did not have any cold medicine and becuase I didn't rest. In the end, the woman I rented the room from in Madrid took me to the druggist at midnight to get some medicine so I could breathe.

I have an OVERactive immune system type of disease. My body senses an invader, attacks, then doesn't know when to quit. It can become quite a production to get the immune system to calm down and in the meantime my lungs are frighteningly congested.

So this time I'm a little paranoid. I'm carrying a mask to wear on the plane.

I want to make my pack as light as possible. But I'm tempted to take cold and flu medicine. At least something like Advil cold & flu decongestant. I'm also taking Airborne during the flight.

My question is, can I purchase cold & flu medicine over the counter in Spain? Something with a good decongestant in it that will knock back the symptoms?

If yes, can you give me the name so I can write it down? can I get it in a grocery market or do I have to go to a pharmacy? Approximate price?


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Hi Deborah,

I know you can get cold & flu medicine over the counter at Pharmacies in Spain. I don't think they have it in grocery stores like they do in the states.

To find a pharmacy look for the (often flashing) green neon crosses, there should be plenty on your way. Ask for “Farmacia”.

As for names of these things I am not sure, but if you go into a pharmacy and say "Gripe" (Flue) and point to your throat or nose... and if you have fever say "fievre" and point to your head... they will understand.

When I first moved to Santiago (and did not know any Spanish) and was in this exact situation this is what I did and it worked great.

I hope this helps and buen camino


Active Member

Thanks Ivar!

Maybe I'll trust St. James and only take one emergency packet of medicine - that way I can at least get to a pharmacy if I need to.

I'm hoping I'll just stay healthy... pray for me :)

Deborah, I prefer Emergen-C over Airborne because I could never get the tablets to dissolve. It comes in various flavors (my fave is orange, but lemon is good too) & does the same thing. It also comes in powdered form in one-serving packages, so you can easily take some along. Start dosing up a few weeks before your trip (one pkg/day will do) & take one each day you're on the Camino. :) My tip: pour the powder into a small cup, add water, stir a bit, then slam it back.



Active Member

Thanks Wolverine,
I already bought the Airborne at Costco (great price) and I don't have any trouble dissolving it. Maybe Portland water has more chemicals in it! :::laughing::: I've been taking it and will continue to do so... but next time I'll try the EmergenC.

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The gripe is rampant in France currently. There are some very good granular solutions, Fluimucal and Mucomyst which can wipe out the symptoms in a few days without any negative drug effects. You need to start the treatment the minute you feel you are getting sick.

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