OK, so you are on holiday or business here, or maybe you have just been re-located to Italy and you, or someone in your family, are feeling lousy.
You want to get something to help you over the worst, but you do not speak Italian, and have no idea what the various medicines are called in Italy. If that is the case, then you should find this post helpful.
Ex-pats who live here will no doubt have noted that Italian concoctions for treating minor illnesses have names which are all but memorable. To help reduce the pain, so to speak, here are some of the medicines my family and I use to deal with relatively minor health problems.
All are available over the counter and without prescription.
Please note that although my family and I use/have used all of the products mentioned below and have never had any problems, we are not you!
While I have translated the dosages from the Italian instructions, please note that the information below is for guidance purposes only. If you or your child suffer from allergies, then seek medical advice as to possible side effects, although the notes, in Italian, within the packs do give details of allergic reactions and other side-effects. And please note that I am not a doctor.
What follows is a list treatments for minor aliments and the information in this post is in no way is to be considered or intended as medical advice. If in doubt, seek medical advice from an English speaking doctor.
Note that pregnant women need to be extra careful: “Sono in c(h)inta” is the Italian for “I’m pregnant” – which you should say to the pharmacist before asking for treatments.
To be honest, it’s not a bad idea to bring your own country’s equivalents of the products listed here, as minor treatments like those listed here tend to cost a small fortune in Italy.
2014: The products listed here are still available in Italy’s pharmacies.
OK, here are a few things that can help you and your family overcome a few common travel health problems:
Imodium 2mg – ask for the “compresse orosolubili” – these dissolve in your mouth without water. Very effective, but can cause stomach pains (they do in me sometimes). First dose is two tablets, then one after each subsequent diarrhoea attack – up to a maximum of three doses in 24 hours. From experience, the initial two tablets usually do the trick.
For Sunburn, Burns and Insect Bites
Foille cream – just spread it over the affected area (Very good for bad sunburn – I know!) Good for relief from itchy mosquito bites as well.
Crema Eudermica Lentitiva pH 2.5″ – if you cannot find Foille cream, this is a good alternative cream for treating insect bites. It works pretty well – I know, I’ve used it and takes the itch out of irritating mosquito bites quickly. Like the Foille cream, just spread it over the affected area.
For catarrhy coughs – for adults and children
Bronco Fluid or its generic (and cheaper) equivalent Libexin Mucolitico. Both are the syrup versions – syrup is ‘sciroppo’ in Italian, which is pronounced ‘sheer-o-poe’ – with the ‘o’ as in ‘hot, and ‘poe’ as in Edgar Allen, more or less.
Dosage: Bronco Fluid – for adults 5 to 10 ml 3 or 4 times a day – half dosage for children. Libexin Mucolitico – 10 to 15 ml 3 or 4 times a day for adults, 5 ml for children.
For catarrhy coughs – for children
Lisomucil – nice taste and seems to work. Syrup version.
Dosage: Children over 5, 1 coffee spoon (note that an Italian coffee spoon is half the size of a normal teaspoon) sized dose 2 to 3 times a day. For children under 5, half to one coffee spoonful twice a day.
For blocked noses
Rinazina – for adults and children over 12 – one to two squirts per nostril, 2 to 3 times a day.
In case you forgot to bring it, Vicks vapour rub can be found in Italy. Certainly those from the UK will be familiar with this wonderful concoction which can help children with blocked noses sleep. It helped me when I was small.
For sore throats
Propoli spray – Just squirt at the sore area of your throat 2 or 3 times, and you can squirt twice a day. (‘Spray’ is pronounced ‘spry’ in Italian – just think of putting ‘spr’ before the word ‘eye’)
For earache in children
Otalgan ear drops – for earache for children (not sure of dosage).
For headaches in children and for dealing with high temperatures
Efferalgan – soluble sachets of paracetamol powder for children. Available in 80mg and 150mg sachets. Make sure you choose the right size sachet.
Dosage: 80mg sachets – babies of 3 to 6 months – One 80mg sachet twice a day. Babies from 6 months to one year – One 80mg sachet 2-3 times a day. Toddlers 1 to 2 years One 80mg sachet 3-4 times a day.
Dosage: 150mg sachets – children 2 to 4 – 0ne 150mg sachet 2-3 times a day. Children 4 to 6 – 0ne 150mg sachet 3-4 times a day.
For headaches and general pain relief – adults
Aspirina granulato – For adults, 500mg sachets. You don’t need water to take them. 1 or 2 sachets 2 to three times a day, but do not take more than 6 sachets a day.
For pulled muscles
Voltaren – a gel. Just spread over the affected area. After it has been applied you may note that it burns very slightly – this is normal.
Suggestions From reader Gege’ Bau:
BroncoSan (syrup) – A honey based natural tonic that opens up your air passages when you’re feeling stuffy. Contains eucalyptus, pine, myrrh, thyme, and other goodies. Tastes delicious too.
Olio del Re’ – A mixture of essential oils that works many wonders. You put 1 or 2 drops of this oil in the palm of your hands, rub them together to warm the oil then cover your nose and mouth and breathe. Will unstuff the most stuffed nose, open your lungs, clear your mind. Can also be used as a massage oil, bath oil, scalp treatment, even mouthwash!
Both these products are completely natural and are available in most herbalists’ (erboristerie).
OK, that’s it for now. I’ll add other things if and when I think of them. If anyone else has any suggestions, then let me know.
If you think you might have problems reading these names out, print out this post or write them down and when asking for them point at the problem area, and cough or sneeze, as appropriate. If the chemist/pharmacist suggests something different, you should be OK – as long as he or she has understood what is wrong with you!
A .pdf version of this post can be downloaded here on Scribd (to download you can login via Facebook): Holiday Blues – Knowing What to Ask for in an Italian Pharmacy/Chemists
If you are suffering from the heat in Italy, then this may help: How to Survive the Summer Heat in Italy