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Holly

Struggling with health problems since coming to China

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skylee

Is there not a hospital/clinic in the university that provides free medical care? Even if you don't want the typical medicine provided, I think the doctors might be able to help to a certain extent.

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Holly

Can you spare me a few thousand bucks? Because then I'd be all for it. ;) Haha. But no, unfortunately, that's the last thing I can do. Don't have the money to spare. And I don't think it would be allowed. I probably wouldn't be able to attend school anymore, and therefore wouldn't be able to graduate at the end of December. But if I could, I would.

No, it wasn't, but it's not something I'm shocked about. My dad has many, many coworkers who travel/have traveled to China on work-related business, and almost all of them warned me that they got sick in China - mainly throat and eye problems. It's just this skin thing that's the most unfortunate and confusing to me. But again, I was expecting to experience some pollution/environment related issues.

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rob07

Sorry to hear about this Holly. High levels of stress can sometimes cause strange rashes. Studying in China can be stressful, so maybe this is a possible explanation.

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skylee
Can you spare me a few thousand bucks?

I didn't know that seeing a doctor in Beijing would require a few thousand dollars. If this is the case I am sorry for having suggested it. In HK medical care is almost free for residents and consulting a private practitioner costs about HKD200-300 each time. And when I was a student at university there was free medical and dental care.

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Holly

I have pretty high levels of stress on a constant basis, so I doubt it's related to something emotional.

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sincyrity

Hi Holly, I was asked by Chinese-forums admin Roddy to respond; I'm an American family medicine doctor working at the expat clinic, International Medical Center in Beijing. I also run the popular expat blog at myhealthbeijing.com. Anyway, I think your symptoms do sound like a possible reaction to the pollution, both indoors and outdoors, also possibly to the hard water. Unfortunately, the only serious way to tackle this would be an excellent air purifier especially for the bedroom. Also, for the hard water you'd need a filter for the showerhead.

These can be a lot of money, but I recommend you go to Sundan electronics store, there's one in the Sanlitun Village Mall. They have an excellent small air purifier, the Hunter 31125, which is only 1200RMB and works great in small rooms. Sundan also has a Japanese-made shower purifier attachment for around 500RMB. You could easily resell these when you leave Beijing. It's very possible that if you got these and kept the purifier going 24-7, your symptoms may disappear.

Of course it's hard to give medical advice without seeing you! Yes, expat clinics can be expensive but I see a lot of students from all the schools. You can also search around my blog at myhealthbeijing.com, I have a lot of posts about pollution.

Good luck, and don't give up on China!

Regards,

Richard Saint Cyr, MD

International Medical Center - Beijing

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Brian US

chinese-forums is becoming quite the community with a doctor on call.

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jbradfor

@sincyrity,Over on your blog (http://www.myhealthbeijing.com/illness/pollution/blueair-vs-iqair-and-the-winner-is/) you write

Last but not least; do not buy ozone-creating purifiers that ionize the air. This was trendy a few years ago, but there is now excellent data that ozone itself is an indoor hazard. No reputable company or reviewing magazine recommends ozone-creating ionizer machines anymore.

Many air purifiers I've seen have a setting for ionize in addition to filter. Do you recommend enabling this?

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abcdefg

Welcome Dr. Saint Cyr. I look forward to your contributions. I'm an ER doc who practices about half the year in the US (Texas) and studies Chinese about half the year in China (Kunming.) Am nearing the end of my career and hope to retire soon, which will allow more time to explore China.

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sincyrity

No, do not use the ionizer. It creates ozone which can make things a lot worse. My Hunter 31125 also has a button for ionizing but I never turn it on. I experimented a couple times and used it in my office; in just a couple hours my eyes were itchy and red and my throat hurt. That's what ozone does to people when it peaks during hot summer afternoons in cities...

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sincyrity

Nice to hear from you. I worked in San Fran before this, and I've been in Beijing for 4 years. Learning Chinese has been difficult, but I'm plowing ahead again with a new teacher and a lot of Chinesepod transcripts...

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Holly

Thank you so much, Dr. Saint, for taking the time to come here and shed a little insight on what might be happening. And thank you too, Roddy, for taking time out of your day to contact him. I really appreciate it.

I'm experiencing a little bit of an improvement after using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream (suggested by my dermatologist) as well as a pure aloe vera gel I found at a local store in the international section. I'm hoping that once I leave Beijing on December 1 for two weeks of travel in China, I'll experience more relief, as the pollution won't be too severe.

Hopefully I can stick it out and still enjoy the rest of my stay in China.

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jmhcali
I'm hoping that once I leave Beijing on December 1 for two weeks of travel in China, I'll experience more relief, as the pollution won't be too severe.

Stay out of Xi'an, then. When I went there last year the pollution was so bad everyone in our tour group got sick.

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Holly

Aw, crud. I think we're going there. <_< It's a two week group trip to a number of cities - 5 or 6, maybe a little more. It's part of the study abroad program fee.

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jmhcali

We were there for three days and 4 nights, just long enough for everyone to get a head cold. If you're not there for very long you'll probably find it's not much worse than Beijing.

It's also possible that I was there during an unusually bad couple of days, and you might have a different experience. Or you might have acclimated to Chinese pollution a bit.

Anyway I wouldn't skip the whole trip just to avoid a bad city or two. Just don't assume that cities other than Beijing are going to be cleaner.

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Holly

Really? Everyone was telling me that Beijing is the worst city pollution wise, and that other cities were better... I know there's still going to be pollution, but I had a sliver of hope... :rolleyes:

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crisgee

I second that thing about Xi'an. I was there last year first week of November. But outside the city, where the Terracotta Warriors are it's fine.

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sincyrity

Most Chinese cities are pretty bad on bad days, but there's no way to predict since it changes hour by hour. I would just enjoy yourself! And bring a few disposable N95 masks so if you need to walk around on a bad air day, at least the masks will help a lot. Since it's winter, you can wear a kouzhao over the usually ugly N95 masks and you'll fit right in with everyone else...

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Holly

I noticed some of my fingers getting red and hot last night. Very similar to my face, which is still acting up, although I think the aloe vera and hydrocortisone is helping at least a little. A few of my fingers, though, and clearly overly dry, as they're cracking in some spots, and have that dry feel, unlike my face. It almost does feel like that sensation you get walking into a warm/hot building after being outside in the cold, where it's normal to get red, burning skin, except that it happens on and off throughout the day... Well, I hope it's just the environment and weather, and that it doesn't get too much worse before I head back home! China and my body just do not agree. I've been sick 24/7 since about my second or third week here. What can you do?

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