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Cultural Differences Regarding Health

Ecuador, Quito

Cultural Differences Regarding Health

There are quite a few subtle differences relating to health and wellness in Ecuador, compared to the US, Australia and Europe. It is important for visitors and longer term residents to be aware of and sensitive to such issues. Some of the common issues that you may come across are:

No bare feet – it is commonly thought that having bare feet walking about the house can lead to illness. Your Ecuadorian friends may be very surprised to see you walking about in this way. You will also find that Ecuadorian women wear flip flops less frequently, for similar reasons.

Cold drinks – cold drinks are frequently thought to exacerbate colds. You may be asked in a restaurant when ordering a drink if you want “con hielo” (with ice) or “clima” (room temperature). If you have a cold and want to avoid a lengthy discussion about it with your Ecuadorian friends, you should opt for “clima”.

Scarf around your neck – another widely believed myth is that keeping your neck warm will help you to get well. That is, if you have a cold, and go out in a tank top, you can expect this to be frowned upon by your Ecuadorian counterparts.

Baby’s head covered with blanket – in the Andes, particularly at night, you’ll notice that a baby’s head will be covered with a blanket, to keep the cold from him/her. This is a common practice and it does not matter what the temperature is—baby will still be all covered up.

Antibiotic / pharmaceutical use – antibiotics are handed out like candy at the drug store. Many people self-medicate and are familiar with the names of the antibiotics that they believe will fix what is wrong with them. There is also a belief among some that cold and flu medication will make you well, rather than simply mask the symptoms of your illness.

Allergic to the cold – some people, including some doctors, believe that it is possible for a person to be allergic to the cold. This is not actually possible. When faced with this attitude, it is better to seek out a doctor who does not share this belief, in order to get to the bottom of what is really wrong with you.

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By Thomas Griffin

I recently graduated from the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. I studied in Sevilla, Spain in...

02 Jun 2010

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