Two of the most common illnesses affecting tourists and visitors to Lima, Peru are Traveler’s Diarrhea, caused by E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella, and bloating caused by the excess gas in the stomach or intestinal track accompanied by constipation and stomach or abdominal pains.
Drinking contaminated water (including ice) and eating new dishes full of new spices can contribute to ruin your vacation. Adults should be able to handle this kind of infection and recover after a few days but that is not sufficient when you only have few days to visit, relax and enjoy Peru.
Familiar medicine found in CVS or Walgreens (both in the US) like Maalox, Gas-X, Imodium, Mylanta, Rolaids to name a few, might be hard to find in Lima, but alternatives under a different name are available.DISCLAIMER: Take my article as an entertainment piece, I am not a Doctor nor I practice medicine. This article describes my experiences which will be by definition different than yours. Please consult a doctor or pharmacist before buying andor taking any medicine. And absolutely never give any medication to a child or baby without consulting your doctor. Prices may vary.
UPDATE: This article has been updated on February 25th, 2017. Some outdated information has been removed, the list was made clearer, a new (and very helpful) infographic with natural solutions has also been added and some helpful tips at the end. I know this article has helped and keeps helping a lot of people, so please don’t forget to share.
How to Ask for OTC to the Pharmacist
Remember a couple of things:
PRESCRIPTION = “RECETA” (in Spanish)
OTC (OVER THE COUNTER) = “NO RECETA” or “SIN RECETA” (without prescription)
Medicines to Help Fight Diarrhea and Bloating
To make it easy and hopefully easier to understand I will be breaking each medicine into their most important medicinal components present in most diarrhea and gas products: RED = Peruvian medicine andor name.
- QUEMICICLINA-S (TETRACICLINA): Used against diarrhea and requires prescription.
a) TETRACICLINA (capsule 500mg) Priced between S/. 053 and S/. 1.19
b) TETRACICLINA (tablet 500mg) Priced between S/. 030 and S/. 0.60
- LOPERAMIDE: Found in Imodium and used against diarrhea. In Peru is found under the name “LOPERAMIDA”. In Peru ask for:
DONAFAN (1 mg) or DONAFAN FORTE (2 mg) (tablets). Very easy to find fake Donafan, make sure you buy it in a good pharmacy.
DONAFANMR comes in boxes of 6, 10 and 100 tablets.
DONAFANMR FORTE comes in boxes of 6, 10, 12, 100, 110 and 250 tablets.
- MAGNESIUM HYDROXIDE: Used as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid, and a laxative. Suspensions of magnesium hydroxide in water (Milk of Magnesia) can be found in Peru under the name of:
LECHE DE MAGNESIA (DE PHILLIPS)
- SYMETHICONE: Used to treat bloating (gas). Does not reduce or prevent the formation of gas, rather it increases the rate at which it exits the body. Found in Gas-X, Imodium, Maalox, Mylanta and Rolaids among many others. In Spanish is called “SIMETICONA“. In Peru ask for: TRIAERONTRIAEROM (tablets): regulator of gastrointestinal function.
- BRAND NAMES (Active ingredient TETRACICLINA):
a) HOSTACICLINA (capsule 500mg).
b) ORENCYCLIN-F (capsule 500mg).
c) QUEMICICLINA -S (capsule 500mg). Price: S/.1.36
d) TETRALAN (capsule 500mg).
e) TETRANASE (capsule 500mg).
- BRAND NAMES (Active ingredient TETRACICLINA):
- DIGESTASE: To treat indigestion and gas you can buy this medicine OTC in boxes of 20, 100 and 200 capsules. Drops (liquid) contain 15 ml.
- BUSCAPINA: For abdominal pain and cramps due to food intoxication and requires prescription.
a) N-BUTIL HIOSCINA (powder 20mg). Price: S/.4.39
- BRAND NAMES (Active ingredient N-BUTIL HIOSCINA)
a) BUSCAPINA (powder 20mg) Price: S/.12.48
b) ESCAPIN (powder 20mg) Price: S/.15.84
c) ISALGEN (powder 20mg) Price: S/.16.55
- SAL DE ANDREWS:
Sal de Andrews is sold as powder to treat indigestion and as a laxative. 100 grams contains sodium bicarbonate (45.6g) and dried magnesium sulfate (17.65g)
- ALKA-SELTZER: Each effervescent tablet contains Acetylsalicylic acid, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Used against indigestion.
- ALKA-SELTZER DIGEST: Suitable for situations of heaviness, fullness and transient indigestion usually occurring after excessive consumption of food and drinks. Used to treat antacid and as a laxative. Each 5g packets contain sodium bicarbonate (2,690mg), tartaric acid (2,182.5mg), sodium carbonate (40 mg), caffeine (27.5 mg) and sodium citrate (70mg).
Other Helpful Information
Make sure to buy these medicines in an authorized pharmacy, like the ones described in this article:
Fake and expired medicines are sold every day in Peru mostly to people with lower income looking for a good deal. So please, be careful when purchasing or accepting medicine. Ask for the origin of the medicine andor the name of the pharmacy where the medicine was purchased. Remember that if the price just seems incredible low, you are probably looking into a fake medicine, or expired medicine. Don’t take any risks.
Thanks to Dr. Axe for this beautiful infographic. In Peru, you can find many of these foods, like:
- Bone Broth: Most likely as an ingredient for a soup.
- Probiotic Foods (check the best supermarkets: 5 Supermarkets to Buy your Groceries in Lima, Peru)
- Oats (“Aven” in Spanish): You can find in most markets.
- Bananas (“Platanos” in Spanish): You can find platanos even on some small markets. Very popular.
- Vegetable Juice: There are many good juice restaurants in Lima, Peru.
- Sweet Potatoes (“Camotes” in Spanish): Tricky to get those ready-to-eat unless you are in a restaurant or your apartment has a full kitchen.
- Flaxseed Oil (“Aceite de Linaza” in Spanish): Some stores should carry this type of oil.
- Ginger (“Jengibre” in Spanish): Very popular. Should find it in any grocery stores or as a popular ingredient in a juice bar.
- Water (“Agua sin Gas” in Spanish): Don’t be crazy and drink from the kitchen faucet. Just buy some water bottles (lots of them)
- Peppermint Oil (“Aceite de Menta” in Spanish): Somewhat popular.
Best Advice Ever
If you are carrying a backpack, please ALWAYS carry with you a roll of toilet paper. Many restaurants (and in public restrooms) will let you access their facilities, but many (depending the location) will not have toilet paper in their restrooms. I know, I know… is crazy, but they have to curbed their misuse somehow. Just do yourself a favor and carry toilet paper just for those emergencies.
If you found this article, chances are you feel pretty crappy (pun intended), please leave a comment and help others. Get some rest and hope you get better and enjoy Peru.