Flu and cold cases are increasing in France as protective measures against Covid have become less common.
During the winter of 2020, widespread adherence to social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing led to a reduction in the incidence of seasonal illnesses.
Last year, the French public health body Public Health recorded just over 2,000 children admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis, while in 2018-19 there were up to 6,000 per week.
With a society separated by a Covid lockdown, there has also been no flu outbreak, meaning the population has not developed any herd immunity for this year and is therefore more vulnerable, especially more than people start to mix more freely.
Even in the summer of 2020, a Datacovid-Ipsos survey of 5,000 French adults found that between the weeks of May 12 and May 26, the proportion of people who avoided shaking hands and kissing had fell by 7%, while the number of people away from crowded places such as public transport fell by 11%.
This year, doctors are concerned about another factor known as “vaccinated syndrome”, whereby people forget infection control measures even after receiving a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“They see their first dose as a milestone, but their antibodies will not start to appear until two weeks later, after which they will continue to climb gradually,” infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido told Le Figaro.
This means that if these people neglect the protective measures they had previously observed, they can still easily catch Covid and other seasonal diseases.
“We are all going to be more susceptible to respiratory diseases [this year] because last winter, our immune systems were not stimulated,” doctor and journalist Damien Mascret told franceinfo.
What cold and flu medicines can I get over-the-counter in France?
In France, Exomuc powders are used for stuffy noses, while remedies like Smecta and Ercéfuryl treat diarrhoea.
For dry coughs you can buy Clarix or Humex, while for wet coughs people use Bronchokod.
Sore throats can be treated with drugs such as Colludol, Tetracaine Drill, Hexaspray and Humex sore throat, as well as Strepsils.
Other French equivalents for drugs you may already know include:
- Ibuprofen can be found in Nurofen tablets – as in the UK – as well as Spedfen and advil. However, the generic drug costs at least half the price.
- Dafalgan (for children aged one month to 12 years), which contains paracetamol and is available in different formats. It is the equivalent of Calpol in the UK. For children 12 years and older, the most commonly used brand of paracetamol is ‘Doliprane‘. Ask for the generic drug to save money.
- Instead of brands such as Theraflu, Beechams, Lemsip or Night Nurse, you will find Fervex soluble powders and Dolirhume tablets, which also contain paracetamol and a decongestant.
- Some flu medications contain paracetamol and caffeine, so they can be substituted with Doliprane and a caffeinated drink. For medicines combining paracetamol and codeine you can use Codiloprane.
- Cough syrups such as Clarix, Humex, Bronchokodand Fluimucil are available instead of cough medicines such as Benylin or Nyquil. Using a Codoliprane tablet at bedtime is also effective against nighttime cough.
- You should also be able to find medications such as Actived, Imodium and Gaviscon.
An essential part of saving money is always to ask for the generic medicine using the phrase “the cheapest generic, pleasewhich can save you up to 50%.
You can find a full list of French equivalents of specific UK drug brands in our article: What are the French equivalents of some common UK drug brands?
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