Buying medical supplies and contact lenses in Spain

I’m an asthmatic and during a trip back to the UK, I spent several days trying to negotiate a Ventolin inhaler to stop myself from dying  (I could have done with a quarter pound of Prozac too). People don’t overdose on Ventolin. If you take too much you’ll end up feeling a bit shaky and perhaps a bit sick. You can’t get high from them either. Therefore, the bureaucracy surrounding getting a bit of medical kit that could possibly save a life, one that you value such as your own or another human being that you quite like, is ridiculous and frustrating.

To get a replacement inhaler in England if, for example, you can’t get to your regular general practitioner can be difficult at best. They seem to prefer it if you wait until you are having an asthma attack and then use up the valuable resources at an accident and emergency department of the local hospital. And this is often the quickest way.

Anyway, in Spain, it’s as easy as going to a pharmacy and asking for one. A Ventolin inhaler will cost you about five euros. There seems to be a lot of medication that you can get over the counter. I have also bought dermatological creams over the counter, that I had to have prescriptions for in the UK. I’m not sure you’d be able to get Diazepan or the likes, they might not be that crazy in Spain.

Keep the packaging of your regular medication or any medication that you might need so you can show the pharmacist as your Berlitz language course may not have covered medical emergency Spanish. I’ve never done anything of the sort because I’m not in the least bit sensible.

Pharmacists run a rota whereby each stays open all night every few days. To find out which one is open at a certain time, you will find the rota in the window somewhere along with the name of address of each pharmacy. Even though it is ‘open’, the pharmacy may well look closed. But somewhere you will find a kiosk or a buzzer usually labelled ‘timbre’ that you need to press and a moody Spaniard will appear rubbing their eyes.

Pharmacies (farmacias) in Spain are usually easy to identify by the large green flashing crosses.

Contact lenses are also available over the counter. Why would anyone want to wear the wrong contact lenses, really? If anyone is that daft, then they deserve whatever they get. Again, it might be a good idea to keep some packaging so that you can easily get the right prescription and make of lens. Have I ever done that? Course I haven’t.

Don’t forget to apply for your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) before you depart on your Spanish travels. These are available online at www.applyehic.org and cost £14.99. They take 7-10 days to arrive but you can pay an additional fee to fast track your application. This will help you to get medical attention anywhere in Europe.

www.applyehic.org

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