This is part of my hindsight series, on things I would have packed if I had known how useful they’d be. Medicine is, of course, available here, but is often tainted or incorrectly labelled. There’s a reliable pharmacy in Gulshan 1, and probably other places, but having a stockpile of over the counter drugs is helpful, especially on Sundays, when Gulshan’s shops are closed. If, however, you want medicine that would be prescription-only in the US, you can often buy it without a prescription in the pharmacies, just know the generic name for it and order up!
We’ve been blessed by the dreaded Dhaka-itis several times. It takes many forms. In the winter, when they burn the trash and a smoky haze settles around the city, many people develop a harsh, phlegmy cough. Thankfully, I wasn’t one of those happy few. In other seasons, Dhaka-itis might be more gastro-intestinal: you pick up giardia, salmonella, e. coli, and even hepatitis relatively easy here, though the last is predominantly a threat if you eat outside the diplomatic bubble. One of our community members is particularly prone to the tummy bugs, getting horridly sick every month or so. The Mr.A and I go for a 6-8 week cycle, I think.
So, you might think my advice would be to bring Immodium. But it’s not! A lot of these parasites, bugs, etc. need to be purged from your system, not held in. The doctor almost never advises Immodium (never has for either of us Adventures), but he does advise rehydration and Pepto. I thought we had a pretty good stock of Pepto (even though Mr.A. had never had it before!), and brought about 100 chewable tablets. It wasn’t enough for the 2 of us. So, in hindsight, I would have packed about twice the number. We bought some here and ordered some more from the states.
Oral rehydration solution is so necessary to public health here, that it’s available in all major stores and mini-markets for less than pennies. The embassy doctor dispenses it like candy, so we always have a few lying around. The taste is horrid and salty, so if you’re coming with kids, you might want to mix it in juice, or bring something like powdered pedia-lyte. They say the saltiness isn’t noticeable when you’re really dehydrated. I’ve been there, it’s true, it tastes good when you’re really really sick.
Our other #1 medicine has been Tylenol (paracetamol, acetaminophen). We bought an industrial sized bottle at Costco, and have gone through it all, even though we were gone in the states for 4 months. We get a lot of headaches, fevers, etc. We have Excedrin and ibuprophen, but turn to the Tylenol more often, probably because it was the only thing I could take while pregnant.
Allergy medicine hasn’t been as necessary as we thought it would be. There aren’t many plants here that we’re allergic too. But, Benadryl has helped me get through a very itchy night or two when the mosquito bites had been too much for me. (I’m like a mosquito magnet, though…). If you’re allergic to mold, you’ll need your medicine, as there is obviously a lot of mold in this very humid place.
Speaking of mosquitos, DEET helps. All natural bug sprays/lotions aren’t so useful, at least not for this magnet, but they’re better than nothing. You can’t mail these, or take them in the aircraft cabin, so plan accordingly. The commissary has some bug sprays, but not always the most intense kinds.
I also bought some anti-itch lotion. It’s mostly methol water, but boy, is it brilliant. Those mosquitos really do love me. It’s a miracle I haven’t had dengue yet.
I also recommend cortizone (skin issues are common because of the water issues), flouridated toothpaste, vitamins and possibly an anti-fungal. We’ve not had any need for anti-fungals, but there are some men in the community who do, apparently, so if you’ve ever had issues, bring it.
Again, all of this is available, if you want to put in the effort to hunt for it, but if you’re packing your HHE and can find it readily at the grocery store, that will be way easier than traipsing all over town to 3 or 4 stores to look for something.