Good to Know: Treating a Cold Whilst Living in Bavaria, Germany

A selection of medications available for helping to treat a cold in Germany |

You’re away from home and you start getting ill. Nightmare! Far away from all your usual home comforts and traditional remedies, what can you do to ease your cold symptoms in Bavaria, Germany?

It’s not a great feeling, that moment when you start to get a scratch in the back of your throat. Off you shuffle to the nearest mirror, open your mouth and… yup, those tonsils are red, swollen and touching your tongue! Well alright, maybe it’s just a sore throat, it’ll be gone in the morning you optimistically tell yourself. Several hours later your ears are aching, nose streaming and you’re going through tissues a mile a minute and starting to look like an unseasonal Rudolph. Cursing the public at large for making you sick, optimism goes out of the window and you’d trade your favourite box of chocolates for a single Beechams Max Strength capsule.

Dealing with a Cold in the UK

Aside from feeling grotty and just generally miserable, in the UK there’s a wide range of products on offer to help you get through a cold whilst remaining a reasonably functional person. Wander in to any supermarket and you can stock up on lemons, ginger and honey, several boxes of tissues, a pack of Anadin, Sudafed and Beechams before mulling over a variety of Strepsils and throwing a tub of Vicks VapoRub into the trolley. Maybe even some Buttercup Syrup, just because you like it. It’s easy, fast, efficient and relatively cheap. You don’t need to ask for help as you can stand there as long as you like, pondering over the various boxes and their contents. You get to leave the supermarket knowing you’ve got everything you need to help see you through the next few days, until your body figures its stuff out and gets better.

It doesn’t work that way in Germany. Not at all. Not even in the slightest.

Dealing with a Cold in Bavaria, Germany

  1. Start by hoping that your first day of sickness isn’t on a Sunday. All the shops you’d need will be closed, meaning you’ll have to search for that one pharmacy (Apotheke) in your area that has been designated as the one that’s open on a Sunday that week. There’s always one but it might be some distance away, even in the neighbouring town. There should be a notice in your local Apotheke window letting you know where to go for ‘out of hours’ service. Failing that, you’ll find some open shops at the Munich Airport or the Munich Hauptbahnhof, if you’re very desperate.
  2. Assuming you get ill mid-week, celebrate your good fortune! The supermarket will be open between 8am and 8pm (probably), so head on over there and pick yourself up a piece of root ginger, a handful of lemons, a bottle of honey and all the tissues you can carry. Kleenex Balsam is readily available, so arm yourself well! Sagrotan (Dettol) hand sanitiser may be available too if you’re lucky – if not, drop in at your local Rossman or DM on your travels.
  3. Before leaving the supermarket, find the sweetie section. No, you’re not going to Haribo-sugar-load your way through this, but German supermarkets tend to have a unique stock system. You’re looking for ‘Hustenbonbons’, commonly known as cough sweets. Happily the word for menthol is still ‘menthol’, so you shouldn’t have a problem navigating to the things that will help you breathe better. Glance at the end of the check-out conveyor; you’ll find Airwaves chewing gum!
  4. Take a deep breath (if you can) and make your way to your local Apotheke. The products you want won’t be on shelves, so there’s no chance of you scanning through multiple options before you pick your favourite. You’re going to have to talk to the pharmacist! In our limited experience here, you’ll likely find someone with the ability to speak at least some English. What you might end up leaving with, who can say. Going prepared will make you feel better though – Load up the product image you think you’re after on your phone and ask if they have it (see below).
  5. Get home with whatever you’ve managed to source from the pharmacy and congratulate yourself on a successful outing! Plonk that honey, ginger and lemon in some hot water and sit in front of a computer with your newly acquired drugs. Find their websites and use Google Translate to help you figure out how not to overdose on whatever you’ve just bought.
  6. Grumble to yourself quietly about how much easier it is to treat a cold in the UK, feel slightly disappointed that the things you’ve managed to gather arn’t quite as potent as you’re used to and they cost a fortune. Wrap yourself in a blanket and feel a little better.

Treating a cold in Germany: Wick Blau VapoPlus Menthol Hustenbonbons, Wick Zitrone & Naturliches Menthol Ohne Zucker Hustenbonbons and Halls Coolwave Zuckerfrei |

Products to Treat Cold Symptoms with in Germany

Not extensive or exhaustive, this is a quick fire list to give you some ideas of what you might be after when you head to the Apotheke.

Disclaimer: Please note, I am not a medical professional and this list is here to help you research your possible methods for treating your cold symptoms. I’m providing an insight into the medications I have purchased and my experience with them. Whilst I believe these may be products that you could find useful, the responsibility remains with you to understand what you are taking and whether it is suitable for your situation and condition. I take no responsibility for your medical treatment!

  • GeloRevoice – For a scratchy throat, non productive cough and hoarseness. This is a cherry menthol flavoured tablet that you’ve got to suck on. They’re a little bit unusual in that they make your mouth and throat feel, somehow, moisturised. They’re not unpleasant. This box was priced at €7.95.
  • Dobendan – Also known as the German brand of Strepsils. Pictured above are the fast acting variety for a sore throat. The word for a sore throat is ‘Halzzchmerz’. There’s a handful of varieties, depending on what you’re looking for. | Dobendan Website
  • Wick – We know the product as Vicks in the UK. VapoRub is essentially the same, though wildly more expensive here. This 50g tub cost €10.95! I’ve seen 100g tubs priced at £4 in the UK. Don’t flinch at the price though – if you need it, you need it. You’ll regret not having it after 8pm at night when all your possible breathing enhancing suppliers have closed. Wick sell a large variety of cold-survival-aiding-products, including something in pill form here called DayMed which contain paracetamol. Check the website thoroughly and go to the pharmacy armed! | Wick Website
  • RhinoPRONT – Not pictured and not purchased by myself, this is a product to help with sinus congestion. | RhinoPRONT Website
  • Weleda – Not pictured and not purchased by myself, they produce ‘Schnupfencreme’ and a range of products to help with breathing and cold symptoms based on natural ingredients, such as Eucalyptus and Peppermint Oils. | Weleda Website
  • Generic Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Asprin will be available from your pharmacist.

That’s it! Good luck with treating your cold symptoms out here in Bavaria, Germany and feel better soon!

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