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A Complete Guide on Dealing with Illness While in Japan

Trouble is just something that's a part of travel. Sometimes you might get a headache, a cold, a stomachache, or just suffer from bad health. Because of this, you should learn how to deal with not feeling so well when you're traveling overseas. Please be prepared by checking out this guide.

In cases where symptoms are light

Sometimes you might have symptoms that aren't bad enough to go to the hospital or a clinic, like a light headache, stomachache, or a cold, but you don't have medicine on hand. Here's some ways of dealing with it.

Buy medicine at a pharmacy or a drug store

Pharmacies and drug stores have all the anti-inflammatory, painkillers, cold medicine, and other medicinal items for dealing with light poor physical health that you could need. Depending on the store, the medicine you're looking for may not be offered but medical supplies such as cold medicine can also sometimes be purchased at convenience stores. Try telling them your symptoms, and asking what medicine would be beneficial.

Ask at the front desk of your hotel

When you're in bad health, walking around here and there looking for a shop is terrible. Ask about places like the nearest pharmacy or drug store at the front desk or the concierge of your hotel.

When symptoms are serious

In cases where symptoms are so serious that you need to go to a hospital, this is one way to deal with it.

Go to a hospital

Don't suffer too much and go to a hospital or clinic immediately for a medical examination. If you convey your symptoms to the front desk of the hotel that you are staying in, you can get information on the nearest hospital. If you fall into poor health while out sightseeing, call for a taxi, and request that the driver take you to the hospital. In any case, if possible, it is best to be taken to a hospital where you can interact with the staff in your own language.

Call for an ambulance

In an emergency, call for an ambulance. You will need to convey your current location, so it may be better to ask your hotel, or someone nearby for help. In unavoidable circumstances, you can call yourself by dialing 119.
There is no charge for calling 119 from a public telephone. In cases where there is an "emergency information button," (typically indicated by an SOS mark and emergency numbers) press it, and then dial. When there isn't, you can just dial as is. And of course, it is possible to connect with a mobile phone.

In cases where you have travel insurance

If you have travel insurance, first look for consultation at the support desk. Contents change depending on the insurance company, but it is expected that you should be able to use various services such as introduction and reservation of a hospital, arrangement of an ambulance, and telephone interpretation services.

Things to do in preparation before travel

It brings a sense of security to know that, even allowing for physical problems, with preparation beforehand, you can get immediate consultation. Here are some convenient sites to know, and things to have ready in times of an emergency.

Carry medicine

If there are medicines that you are used to, you can immediately take them to feel better if you get struck with sudden poor physical health. In a foreign country where you can't understand the language or the writing, buying medical supplies might make you very anxious. It is better to carry medicine that you know works for you.

Get travel insurance

In cases where you are taken to a Japanese hospital with a sickness or injury, you'll have to pay medical fees. If you have travel insurance, they'll pay a portion or potentially all of it, so it's highly recommended. You can choose an insurance that has secondary services starting from the acceptance of a medical consultation, so it can be a big help when the time comes.
It is ideal to end your coverage before leaving the country at somewhere like a travel company. There is also insurance available for purchase after coming to Japan, so for those who have already entered the country, don't worry!

Search for the locations of hospitals and pharmacies

It's more of a relief if you know of treatment facilities in the area of accommodations beforehand. There are also hospitals that support foreign languages, and drug stores that are open late into the night (during times when there are no pharmacists, it isn't possible to buy certain medical items), so please try looking them up.

Points of contact and Web sites that are convenient to know about

Telephone consultation contact (AMDA International Medical Information Center)
It's a consultation point of contact that has telephone support in foreign languages. It offers information about medical treatment institutions that offer foreign services, and information on Japan's medical treatment system.

Medical care guide (Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO))
It's a page that offers useful information for times when you fall on bad health. You can also search for medical institutions throughout the country that offer reception to visiting tourists.

For times when you fall on bad health, it is important to deal with it quickly. When you're back to full health, please get back to enjoying you travel in Japan.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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