Got Cold Again

I am feeling terrible today. I got cold yesterday. Today, I felt weak. The temperature of Shanghai changed dramatically these days. It will get colder in the next few days with lowest temperature from 4°C, 0°C, -1°C, to -3°C of next Monday. So my buddies, if you are also in Shanghai, take care and keep warm! Cold or flu in China is not so serious as in U.S. In U.S., flu kills. In China, it is the less impacting illness.

I had three caplets of Tylenol Cold in the last 18 hours already. I hope it will help relief of cold symptoms. When I was in U.S., I was so cautious not to get cold since I had no idea about how hospitals work there. I guess many foreigners do the same in China.

Go to Drug Store for Cure

The easiest way to get medicine in China is go to the drugs store. There are OTC icons on these medicines that you don’t need a doctor’s Rx to buy them. It is definitely the cheapest way to fight against normal diseases if you know which medicine works for you.

Hospital? Oh. No. Thanks. I avoid going to hospital as much as possible. I believe there are problems with the current health care system. The hospitals rely on the medicine reselling as an important revenue source, so the doctors tend to give Rx and ask patients to get the most expensive medicine. They even give more than needed.

Whenever I go to hospital for fever or cold, it is guaranteed that I got the bill of 120 – 200 RMB for normal cold. Before they talk with you, the doctors will ask for blood check first. It is expensive. They gave many types of medicines that serve for more than three days. Do they really think only the combination of all those expensive medicines and three or more days can cure me?

Wendy Does Not Believe in Hospital

Wendy got cold in last October, went to hospital for many times and got injection for two days. One month later, she is just getting worse and worse. She recorded the experience on her blog (First several days, one week later, the worst day). During her illness, I was in Guangzhou. I wrote “Wendy has been ill for some days. She caught cold and didn’t show any sign of recover after the injection. I hope the statues bring some good luck to her. I have my finger crossed for her recovery soon.”

Finally, about one month later, we didn’t believe in those doctors in hospitals any more. We went to a small drug store and asked for more medicines they suggested. The apothecary said: “The medicine is not useful at all. Listen, your lungs have been infected already. Take these.” We didn’t believe in her either, but we finally paid for the cheaper medicine. Two days later, Wendy recovered fully. Later, when we got ill, we’d like to go to the small drug store first.

The Medical Insurance

The good thing is, I can use my Medical Insurance Card 医保卡to pay the bill. It works like a credit card. The difference is, I don’t have to deposit to it. The insurance does. It is the SOCIAL medicine insurance. Meanwhile, with the receipt, I can also reimburse the money from the commercial insurance company.

For those who don’t have either of the insurance, they are in big trouble. In Zhan’s case, he wasn’t able to raise the enough fund to liver transplant, and his insurance didn’t cover that. Wendy and I bought additional commerical insurance before to cover these high-cost diseases. The percentage of people who buy those insurances like us is small but rising these years.

16 thoughts on “Got Cold Again

  1. It is sad to see the hospital in China operates like a commercial profit centre, does the authority has any intention to subsidize or provide the basic health care to all people in the future?


  2. The govenment is looking into it. One reason I thought about this issue is because I am ill myself, the other is, it was on the radio that the central government is working on this problem recently.

  3. My doctor always tell me to drink lot of fluid and take rest in the event of cold symptoms, remedy has little or no effect in cure.


  4. when get a cold, I usually drink a lot of the Gan3 Mao4 Chong1 Ji4, or Ban3 Lan2 Gen1 (those are Medicine Tea for Flu), say 10 Cups of Tea each day, and lots of times I can recover with 3 days.

  5. You say that in U.S. flu and colds kill, while not in China. I want to point out that flus and cold in the U.S. are much weaker than in China, it is just that Chinese people are much stronger. I thought I was going to die when I got flu in China, and it is very easy for westerners to get sick in China (I have been many other places, and never got sick that bad). However, my wife is completely indestructable in the U.S. and never gets sick here, even when every other person is sick. So I conclude that people in China simply have better immunities, and people in the U.S. do not have the built-up defenses, and thus die in large numbers from flu and colds that would be barely noticed in China.

    In fact, I think this is a problem of the U.S. system. Too much medicine results in populations that have weaker immune system and passing on weak genetics. I think if a child grows up the first 5 years in China, she would never get sick in the U.S; and maybe the U.S. should stop using so much medicines on the young children.

  6. Flu is the common name for influenza, a virus that attacks the respiratory system.

    There are three different types of the flu virus. Types A and B can cause widespread flu outbreaks (although type B usually causes less severe symptoms than type A). Type C is fairly rare and causes only mild symptoms.

    Usually when you’re sick with a virus, your body builds up a defense system (which involves making antibodies) against the virus, so you don’t get that particular strain of virus again. Unfortunately, flu viruses mutate (change) each year, so you aren’t protected from the disease forever. Some years the change in the flu virus is slight, so even if you get the flu it’s a mild case because the antibodies give you partial protection. But every 10 years or so the flu virus undergoes a major change, and many people get severe cases. Epidemics is the large-scale outbreaks.

  7. From November to April, all across the United States, as many as 90 million people come down with the flu each year. The Peak Flu season in North America is from December to March.

    What is the Flu Season (most likely get Flu) in your area?

    I very much like to know the pattern around world. Places such as NE Asia, E Europe, N Europe, W Europe, Mediterranean, N Africa, S Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and S America. If you are living in the above area, please share what you know about the Flu Season there.

    Thank you in advance!

  8. The thing that really worries me about living in China and Asia in general is the population density. It’s very easy for flu virus to spread and infect more and more people.

    The Center of Disease Control and Prevention in the US has already said that the probability of a killer flu pandemic spreading is “100%”. It’s only a matter of time. The prime candidate is the Avian bird flu virus. It’s only a matter of time before the virus mutates to being able to spread from humans to humans (it is unable to do that now).

    This thought of a flu pandemic hitting sends shivers to my spine, especially in densely populated China with poor medical infrastructure.

    For more on the topic, please see below:

    The Next Big Killer

    Robert Langreth Tomas Kellner, 02.07.05

    Forbes Magazine

    When a giant wave kills 200,000, the world is stunned and wonders what could have been done. But it is less galvanized to deal with a global catastrophe that could be much worse.

    It is likely to kill many millions of people, sicken a quarter of the world’s population and send the global economy into a tailspin. There is little we can do to stop this disaster from happening, and it could already be imminent.

    The threat, obscured by the all-too-with-us aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, is a global influenza pandemic, the rapid spread of a deadly new strain of the influenza virus to which no one in the world is immune. Such a virulent strain unpredictably leaps from farm animals to humans every few decades, with devastating consequences. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the worst on record, felled 50 million people; it was particularly effective at targeting adults in the prime of life. Milder pandemics occurred in 1957 and 1968. Thanks to modern jet travel and densely packed Asian countries where millions live in close proximity to farm animals, the threat of a new pandemic is greater than ever.

    “The influenza tsunami is coming. It is hard to say that the probability of its occurring is anything other than 100%,” says Martin Meltzer, health economist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. The only real questions, he says, are how soon and how bad. A potential pandemic may already be brewing. The so-called bird flu, identified by virologists as H5N1 (a reference to the viral surface proteins hemagglutinin and neuraminidase; there are 15 types of ‘H’ and 9 subtypes of ‘N’ proteins), first emerged in Hong Kong in 1997 and has spread among poultry populations in Vietnam, Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. So far it has infected 47 people who had come in contact with sick animals, and killed 34 of them–a chilling 72% mortality rate. (By comparison, the SARS virus killed 10% of the 8,000 people it hit.) Unlike ordinary flu strains, which mostly vanquish elderly or other vulnerable populations through secondary bacterial infections or by exacerbating preexisting conditions, the bird flu appears to have a more direct killing effect on cells in the lungs and other organs; many of the fatalities were among previously healthy young people.

    It may just be a matter of time before a new strain combines the high lethality of avian flu with garden-variety influenza’s ability to spread through coughing and sneezing. (Recently a strain in Holland infected a thousand people, killing one.) Meltzer says it is virtually certain there will eventually be another lethal pandemic. What is the probability that H5N1 is going to be it? That’s hard to judge. Still, says University of Minnesota infectious-disease epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, “this looks like the first chapter in the new flu pandemic. Even with moderate transmission and fatality rates, this could do in less than a year what HIV took 30 years to do.”

    Since no one would be immune, all 6.4 billion people on the planet would need a shot. But only 300 million flu shot doses are produced each year, a capacity that could stretch to 500 million or so doses in the case of a single-strain pandemic. In any case the shots may come too late: A special vaccine would have to be made, a months-long process that involves incubating influenza virus in millions of chicken eggs. “It will go around the globe, and nothing will stop it,” says Klaus Stöhr, head of the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Program. “At best we can slow down the spread to give us a little more time to produce more vaccines.”

    The U.S. vaccine supply is particularly vulnerable, now down to a single main flu shot manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, after factory snafus this fall contaminated the entire supply at Chiron Corp., the other big producer. After giving lip service to the influenza threat for years, the U.S. government is finally getting serious. Federal spending on flu research, surveillance and vaccine procurement zoomed to $283 million this year from $39 million in 2001. But 20 state health departments still don’t have pandemic response plans, and half don’t have an online reporting system compatible with theCDC’s national database, says Trust for America’s Health, an advocacy group. Assuming that a pandemic hits once every 30 years, economist Meltzer calculates that $700 million to $2 billion in annual spending for vaccine development and response is justified.

    The U.S. government has contracted with both Sanofi-Aventis and Chiron to produce a prototype avian-flu vaccine for large-scale trials that are expected to get under way very soon with healthy adults. It is not known how much protection the vaccine might provide. The government also plans to award contracts this yearto accelerate the development of a new cell-culture technique that would allow vaccine to be grown in vats instead of in chicken eggs; such methods are now used for polio and other viruses and might more easily be scaled up in an emergency.

    It may take years before vaccine production is sufficiently primed. Meanwhile, in Asia, the flu virus continues to mutate. Says epidemiologist Osterholm: “We have yawned at influenza year after year. We are going to have a rude awakening.”

  9. Yes. I changed my title to the correct form – Got Cold Again instead of Got Gold Again. My father sent me SMS today and said “Gongxi facai – Get Gold Again, but take care of yourself, don’t Get Cold Again.” Very interesting. Thanks, dad.

  10. Is it expensive to buy medical insurance in China? How does your 医保卡work? Where can you use it? Are all hospital government owned?

  11. Is it expensive to buy medical insurance in China? How does your 医保卡work? Where can you use it? Are all hospital government owned?

  12. It is not that expensive to buy medical insurance. At least it is something that people can only dream of. I can use the Social Medical Insurance Card at major hospitals. They have a list, which covers many public hospital. Private hospitals are typically not included.

  13. Influenza (or as it is commonly known, the flu or the grippe) is a contagiousdisease caused by an RNA virus of the orthomyxoviridae family. It rapidly spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, imposing considerable economic burden in the form of health care costs and lost productivity. Major genetic changes in the virus have caused three influenza pandemics in the 20th century, killing many millions of people

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