Tuesday, October 7, 2014

German Apothek: cold and flu

In honor of being sick for the millionth time this month (darn you Kindergarten full of germs!) I thought I'd write an informative blog post about over the counter cold and flu medication.  

Chances are if you are an expat in Germany at least once you went to the Apothek miserable with a cold and walked out with some kind of homeopathic medicine that didn't seem to help at all.  I haven't met any expats who don't miss the over the counter medicines from back home.  For a long time I thought cold medicine didn't really work here.  That's not so.  Germany has pretty much the same cold medicine we have in the States, you just have to know what it's called and ask for it by name.  Don't trust the pharmacists to tell you what to take!  They always recommend the more natural homeopathic treatments.  Even better is having the doctor write you a prescription.  Our health insurance covers almost all prescriptions, even over the counter stuff. 

First things first, a daytime decongestant that actually works!  Just be careful you don't take it with paracetamol. 

Wick DayMed Erkältungs-Kapseln
For night time cold and flu suffering I love this cough syrup.   It is slightly less effective than the green flavor but it tastes so much better.  If you need something stronger buy the green death flavor, it has a couple of extra ingredients (mainly alcohol) that make it taste horrible but also work better. 

MediNait Erkältungssirup = cough syrup
These throat numbing cough drops are fantastic.
Halstabletten = cough drops

If tablet decongestants aren't working well enough try this nose spray.  They also make this nose spray for toddlers but good luck administering it!  Sometimes if we do it super fast we can get it up our child's nose before she has time to make a plan of resistance.  It really does help, but sometimes it's not worth the fight with a cranky sick kid :)

For regular pain relief I like Ibuprofin.  Beware, it has the same name in Germany but is pronounced differently.   Also called Ibu-ratiopharm.

 Tylenol goes by the name Paracetamol in Germany.  Remember, German pronunciation means it sounds nothing like how you would say it in English.
For babies and small children liquid pain relief is the way to go.  Some pediatricians will always prescribe suppository medication for babies so I always ask for Saft (liquid) medications.  Depending on the age of your child you can get 2% or 5%.  Sometimes is comes with a spoon or a Dosierspritze (syringe).  I found that the Dosierspritze works way better for babies and toddlers. 

Ibuprofin in liquid form for for babies.
Paracetamol (Tylenol) in liquid form for babies.
Histamine blocker for those with allergies.  They have all different types, this is just the one we happened to have on hand.

Lastly kids cough syrup to help toddlers get rest at night.

This covers the basics for over the counter cold and flu treatments in Germany.  If you are looking for a particular brand of medication but don't know the German name you can easily find out the name online.  If you Google the English name most common drugs have a Wikipedia page that will tell you name of the drug in different countries.   I usually use this when my doctor prescribes me something I'm not familiar with and I want to read about the side effect etc. in English.  

And if you really hate going to the Apothek know that most over the counter medications can be bought cheaper on Amazon.de, sometimes even in bulk.

Gute Besserung,



  1. A) This is SUPER helpful! Thank you! B) I really hope you are feeling better soon, you´ve been in too many doctor´s offices of late it seems.

  2. I LOVE your posts about life in Germany! They are so helpful! I'm going to reference these often once I lose my military benefits and have to really live like a German.

    You're so right too, they always give us natural/ineffective stuff at the Apoteke. I'm also so glad you appreciate true medicine like me. I hated being pregnant because I couldn't take most of this stuff while I was sick with the toddler daycare germs. The only relief from being sick when I'm not pregnant is the fact that I can sleep like I'm dead every night I take Nyquil.

    Hope you feel better quick and fight off the KITA germs for the rest of the winter!

  3. Sehr informativ Beitrag zu überprüfen. Ich freue mich, quer durch dieses Artikels gekommen. Ich war eifrig auf der Suche nach einer Stelle, die diese Informationen zu geben. Weiter so.
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  4. i got the first 3, already feeling better after a couple hours with the daytime Wick n Dorithricin.

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  6. Sick on vacation, going to the pharmacy now, thanka.

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  10. Thank you so much for this post, you just helped us out a lot!

  11. I love that post..I'm german, living in America...so that helped me what to use in the US. The only thing that didn't match the picture was :"If you need something stronger buy the green death flavor, it has a couple of extra ingredients (mainly alcohol) that make it taste horrible but also work better.

    But you've posted a picture that says 'without alcohol' (ohne Alkohol) in german ;)
    Thank you for the helpful post!♡

  12. Thank you thank you thank you this was so incredibly helpful <3 I wasted so much money buying homeopathic shit pharmacists recommended because I didn't know what to ask for!

  13. I too am very grateful. I have twice been fobbed off with natural remedies when going to the Apothek which don't help at all and I have just been getting sicker. Thank you so much for sharing your practical knowledge.

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