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Getting sick in Germany

Getting sick is one of the most normal things that can happen, it’s sometimes annoying if you are away from home with no one to take care of you. Maybe you have some fever, feel your body tired, some part of your body hurts, you feel sad or restless. Fortunately Germany's healthcare system is regarded as one of the best in the world, because of it's medical staff, it's organization and infrastructure, so no need to panic and check these tips to know what to do:

Student with dog on couch
Student with dog on couch© Nathaly

1. Breathe and Analyze the Situation

The best thing in all cases is to lie down and rest for a few hours, sometimes our body it’s just tired. But if that doesn’t work then we’ll have to do something about it.

What are your symptoms? Have you ever had them before? Is it a simple flu, a typical stomach ache or just a normal bruise? Or does it need medical attendance?

It is always best to analyze calmly and not rush to the hospital right away because here in Germany if you go to the hospital for a simple headache, they will most likely ask you to call a doctor and ask for an appointment, since the area of emergency is for serious cases that need rapid and specialized attention.


2. Don’t hurry up to look for it online

I think this has happened to all of us; that we look online for: “I have headache”, and according to the search engine, we may have a rare chronic disease and the info confuses us more because you don’t even know which website to trust and all of them have different information. We all know about misinformation on the web and how dangerous it can be.

Instead, it may sound a little silly and childish but a mom’s advice is always useful, or maybe you have some medical staff in your family that you can call to ask for advice.

3. Calling and visiting the doctor

If after resting, your symptoms don’t disappear, maybe it’s time to call a doctor, in this case it’s better to go first to our “Hausarzt”, the attention will be more accurate, since he has our medical history (past illness, allergies, if we have a regular medication, etc).

(In case you don’t have one, you can call any doctor and ask them to be your “Hausarzt”, fill out certain forms, answer some questions and that’s it.)

If you do not feel that you have found a “trustworthy” doctor, or you just need an appointment as soon as possible, other doctors can also attend to you.

Before calling, make sure it is close to where you live, most can also speak English, but it is always important to ask before booking an appointment or ask a friend to help you translate if you do not know German.

When calling the doctor: 

  • A: Book an appointment 
  • B: Ask if he/she has time without having to book an appointment. 

The important thing is always to inform us and above all not to forget our insurance card, which in most cases, will bear the cost of medical care; but that always depends on the Insurance company and its terms ( you can find on its website and in your contract).

Scarf, tea cup, handkerchiefs, medicine box
Scarf, tea cup, handkerchiefs, medicine box© Nathaly

4. What about the receipt and medication?

In most of the cases while being enrolled under a public insurance, you’ll need to pay the first 10€ of each prescription and the rest will be covered by the insurance.
And also in most of the cases of public insurance schemes, you’ll need to pay the cost of the medication and then send the receipt to the company for a reimbursement. And again, this always depends on your insurance company and its terms.

Some personal extra tips for when you feel sick are some natural based medicines and tees that you can find in drogueries and supermarkets, that I would recommend and are available in many different brands:

I personally really like the brand “Bad Heilbrunner”, but there’s some others such as “Doppelherz”, “Vick”, etc. also at affordable prices.

Some meds you'll find everywhere

  • Sore throat Ache: “Hals und Rachen” spray, that helps you calm the pain
  • Cough: the “Husten und Bronchial Tee” could also help and “Hustenbonbons”
  • Stomach Ache: “Reizdarm” pills and “Margen- und Darm Tee”
  • Insomnia or if you feel too nervous or anxious: “Schlaf- und Nerven Tee” or a “Beruhigungstee”
  • Flu: “Ingwer und Zitrone” Tee (Ginger and Lemon tee)

5. What about Sick Leave?

When we feel unable to go to work or go to the university, it’s normal that we just stay at home to rest. But in most cases at work, after some days, your employer has the right to ask you for a sick leave note, in German “Krankschreibung” or “Arbeitsunfahigkeitbescheinungung”.To get it, we must go to the doctor.
At university this is mostly the case but for exams, when you don’t feel able to go and write an exam or an important project, they may ask you for this note, so don’t forget to take on count this.

Extra: Nowadays thanks to technology and digitalization advances, there’s some online doctor sites and apps (Yes, they’re legal in Germany), in case you don’t feel alright to get up from your bed. They allow you to book an appointment for most medical areas, with professional medical staff, which can also write a medical prescription and a sick leave note for you. If you want to use the service of one of these apps or websites, search with your search engine or just look in the app store.

Getting sick and being sick
Getting sick and being sick© Nathaly

So far so good, these were some useful tips and Information. Of course, always follow your doctor’s instructions, eat healthy, drink enough water and sleep enough to help your body recover. 🙂

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