Popping Pills Like Candy

This week I’ve been battling a bit of a chest cold, my chest feeling like it was filled with wet sand.  A visit to the doctor Tuesday indicated clear lungs that were moving air effectively, leading to a diagnosis of just a bronchial infection.  As it had lasted a few days already without any signs of clearing, the doctor concluded that it might be bacterial rather than viral and prescribed antibiotics.

It seems that doctors here in Thailand love to prescribe medicines, especially antibiotics.  Since this nice doctor was an expat Indian, I decided to get her perspective on this trend.

She agreed that doctors here are prescription-happy and said there were two main factors:

  • First, because pharmacists have the latitude to prescribe low level antibiotics, they are used “like candy”, leading to many bugs building resistance to these drugs that would normally be sufficient to treat them.  Over time, this leads to doctors having to prescribe stronger medicines more frequently to treat those resistant strains of bacteria.
  • Second, Thais seem to expect that when they go to the hospital or clinic to visit the doctor, they will return with a “goody bag” of colorful pills.  This leads to the prescribing of more medications than might normally be the case.    

Even after this conversation with the doctor I still walked away with antibiotics (azithromycin), a cough suppressant (dextromethophan), and a mucolytic (Mucocin, which I’m fascinated to learn is an extract of the rollinia mucosa, or wild sugar apple, tree – native to the West Indies and Central America!).  So no shortage of medications.  I did save the environment and forego the little paper bag, opting to instead carry the drugs in my messenger bag.

Interesting articles here and here about the overprescription of antibiotics and the public health risk it creates.


10 thoughts on “Popping Pills Like Candy

  1. In your case, I think you probably needed some thing to get rid of the cough….not sure if they have over the counter cough medicines like Robitussin etc.  That should have helped if you had taken it right away. Sometimes a bad cough does make the bronchioles get inflamed, and then abx therapy is recommended.  But you are right about the over medicated patients, and the fact that patients like to get something in return fortheir visit to the doctor.  That happens here also.  Get well soon.
    Lather your chest with Vicks and use some steam inhalation. ( How romantic would that be!!)

  2. yeah not only thais i think… asians like to take pills when not feeling well…erm you may come to malaysia as we have good doctors here…japanese are suckzzzz, anyway forget it, at least i can run jump eat sleep nowok ok wish you would get well soon…

  3. I keep a bottle of Vicks in my nightstand and here’s a good wive’s tale for you….rub Vicks into the bottom of your feet and put thick socks on.  Supposedly this helps the coughing.  I tried it a few months back and it did seem to help (even though sleeping with socks on is not fun!!!). 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s