Over the Counter Drugs in Mexico – Tred(a) Carefully!

I got sick and could have gotten sicker…some things to keep in mind before you take what the doctor gave you.

...if only it wouldn't make me deaf...

There was a day, a day like many of us have had, on which I woke up feeling less-than-fine. At first, it was a just a vague sense of something being a bit off, but by noon, there was nothing vague about it. I was in gastric distress.

I generally don’t get sick when I travel – even street food in Calcutta didn’t faze my cast-iron stomach – but I haven’t managed to avoid it altogether.  On a trip to DF before we expatted I did pick something up, and still dealing with unbearable cramps a few days after getting home, I finally went to the doctor.  She was not especially sympathetic – before my trip, she had tried to convince me to get a shot (maybe to prevent Hep A?) and I never quite got around to it.  Don’t like needles.  Anyway, when I presented myself to her, she said, “You should have taken the shot.  I will give you an antibiotic, but if that doesn’t work, you will have to poop in a cup.”

Sorry about that.

Thankfully, the antibiotic did the trick, and further grossness was avoided.

So, back to the here and now, by half-way through the day I was pretty certain that I had the same thing as before.  Imagine a hot hand grabbing your stomach from the inside, squeezing it – HARD – and then releasing it, and doing this every few minutes.  I was starting to get a massive headache, and was running a bit of a fever. That was what I was dealing with, and I knew from past experience that this was beyond the power of Pepto to manage.  I’m no doctor, but I was pretty sure I needed antibiotics.

Best to stick with tested and true pink peppermint tasting liquid chalk...(source: Wikicommons)

My ever-loving husband went out to see what he could find.  Years ago it was the case that you could buy many antibiotics over the counter, but those days have gone.  Many pharmacies have a doctor on-site who will give you a once-over and write you a prescription for free, but there was no way that I was in any shape to present myself.  And so he eventually returned home without antibiotics, but not empty-handed.  In addition to ginger-ale (comfort beverage when I am sick) and cinnamon-covered churros (new comfort food when sick), he brought a package of Treda tablets.  The last pharmacist he spoke to said that Treda is an “internal antiseptic” and might do the trick.

I’m not a complete dolt, so I did try to find out a bit more about Treda before I popped it.  Proper research was impossible from my bed, and I didn’t find much, other than lots of posts from people asking the same question, and others from people saying that it is basically a miracle pill.  Didn’t quite meet the due-diligence test, but I was feeling so crappy that I just didn’t care.

And, Treda works like a charm.  As others had posted, I took a few tablets every few hours, and woke up the next morning feeling right as rain.  A hundred percent.  And a few days later, when DH was felled by the same thing, he popped some Treda and felt great in the morning too.  But, as it turns out, either one of us could have woken up deaf (!!), suffering from vestibular problems, kidney damage, or worse.

I told Mummers about how I had popped this great pill and how it had fixed me up.  She is a retired nurse, and was curious about this wonder-drug.  She looked into it, asked around and this is what she found out (and you can scare yourself silly here or here):

  • Treda is a neomycin-sulfate drug, and it is not available anywhere else except as a topical ointment, because…
  • It is notorious for serious side effects, such as deafness (from nerve damage), inner ear problems, kidney damage, and more, and…
  • In the absence of a clear understanding of drug safety standards in Mexico, it is better to avoid notoriously dangerous drugs!

Also interesting is that there are some drugs that can be safe for some ethnicities and not safe for others.  For example, there is a drug called chlorampheticol that is commonly taken in South American for diarrhea that has serious side effects for North Americans, but not for South Americans.  Huh.

The bottom-line message is this: don’t assume that a drug is safe for you just because a pharmacist or doctor gave it to you.  Or, because someone you know raved about how well it worked for them (like I did, to a friend here, before having to tell her to forget all about it).  Do your research, and listen to your Mummers.

Feel free to get in touch with comments or questions! Email Mexpatted. Or, share your thoughts with other Angoinfo Mexico users in the Discussion Forum.

by Mexpatted. Find out more about Mexpatted here.