I was just thinking about how there have been a lot of people catching a cold lately in Japan. I had one last month. It was a pretty mild and short cold, thankfully. Now, there are a couple of big differences between Japan and Canada concerning colds.
1. Japanese people will wear facemasks when they have a cold. The masks are also worn during hay fever season, too. But with Japan being so densely populated in the cities, and many people taking the train and interacting with others, wearing a facemask is very polite and courteous. This never happens in Canada. If someone was wearing a facemask in Canada, they either have a very dangerous disease (Tuberculosis, for example) or they’re a bank robber. People will be very cautious if they see a facemask.
2. Whenever I’ve had a cold in Japan, people tell me to get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and…..go to the hospital (or clinic). In Canada, if you went to the hospital because of a cold, they’d tell you to go home and stop wasting their time. Actually, doctors can’t do anything for someone who has a cold other than tell them what they already know, get sleep, drink water and take some medicine which is easily found in a pharmacy. I’ve never been to a doctor about a cold in Japan, and I don’t plan on starting. I’ll take my medicine, which is what the doctor would tell me to do. I guess it’s my experience of the Canadian medical system that tells me that seeing a doctor about a cold is useless.
Japan is a very health-conscious country, but I don’t think it’s doctor visits that make Japan number 1 in life expectancy. It’s the food and the daily walking everyone does. Elderly people keep walking and eating healthy food. In Canada, elderly people tend to sit and watch TV all day and eat the same food they used to eat when they were young. Canada’s cold winter doesn’t help, either. People just don’t go out to exercise in winter. In Japan, where I live, it’s actually a great temperature to go hiking in the middle of winter.
I think the biggest difference between Japan and Canada in terms of health care is people’s attitude. Though during the recent swine flu scare, which I think is more media scaremongering than an actual threat, the Japanese response has been as expected, mostly. I was surprised when they were telling people with flu symptoms to just stay home, as the swine flu is quite mild, and there’s no need to infect all the elderly patients at the hospital.
I have a couple students who are doctors. I wonder what they think. Actually, for all my students, what do you think about what I said?