What is the drug HPS? (aka, idk what the heck was given to me for an ear infection)

This would be my guess; it’s 450 acetaminophen and 200 mephenoxalone. Did they give you Scanol or any other acetaminophen?


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No way. That would have zero efficacy on an ear infection.

From everything else I’ve heard here, I’m not sure that changes much.

It’s time to revive leeches.


I think you might have found it! They gave me:

  • DEX-CTM 2mg (which is Dexchlorpheniramine, an antihistamine)
  • HPS 650 mg (the mystery drug)
  • Suolweilin 249 mg (which apparently is for stomach pain and nausea)

It would make sense if it was acetaminophen, if I guess just for the “pain” (though a stuffed up ear isn’t really a "pain” in much more sense than a “pain in the neck”, aka metaphorically speaking). Now, why they haven’t bothered giving me any sort of antibiotic for an ear infection would be anther source of :thinking:, but I’m no Taiwanese doctor.

To the pharmacy I go! (after work…)


You need to fix your doctor game.
There’s an excellent chance that it ain’t infected at all and that Dr Snotty McDirtyPaws is using “infection” as a catchall including “inflammation”, which is something they do, since local folks rarely question the particulars of a diagnosis. Middle ear inflammation is a pretty common occurrence here, especially among FNGs who haven’t acclimated to the local microfauna.
Accordingly, an initial 3-day prescription of a painkiller+anti-inflammatory (or antihistamine)+antacid is totally de rigeur here. Local folks are psychotic about Western medicine causing stomach upset, so they always prescribe an antacid along with the others. In most cases this course of meds is effective. If it is just an inflammation, it will clear it up. If it really is infected, well, you can come back after 3 days and he’ll (hopefully) up the scrip. If he ain’t fixing you, change Drs.

Do yourself a favour and keep looking for a decent practitioner who will provide the level of service you prefer.


I agree with the other comments that “HPS” doesn’t seem to mean anything specific unless you can find out the full name. I remember that quite a few hospitals have searchable databases of all the medicines they carry. I thought I’d saved a list of these that someone had posted on reddit or something but I can’t seem to find it anymore, and I just tried googling but couldn’t come up with anything either (maybe these are easier to find in Chinese and someone else will be able to help).

Maybe tempogain is right and the doctor prescribed the acetaminophen as a painkiller, but the mephenoxalone (muscle relaxant/anxiolytic) seems very odd. The Suolweilin may have been prescribed to “protect” your stomach from the other drugs. I think this is misguided, but I know of one ENT doctor in Taipei who seems to prescribe omeprazole with everything for this reason - I discussed/argued about this with the clinic pharmacist when I’d been unnecessarily prescribed it alongside an antibiotic and was told something along the lines of “Taiwanese people are sensitive to Western medicines because they’re so strong.” :roll_eyes: Since I’d already confirmed with the doctor that he was only going to prescribe me the antibiotic and I ended up receiving (and being charged for) like 5 separate tablets, I was quite inclined to tell him to take them all out of the little idiot-proof paper sachets and just give me the antibiotics - my strong Western stomach can handle them.

This is basically why I almost never go to clinics and prefer hospitals. The other reason, for ear infections, is that many small clinics (at least the one or two I’ve been to) aren’t equipped to run cultures to determine the appropriate course of treatment. I think something like 80-90% of outer ear infections are caused by bacteria so can be treated with oral antibiotics or antibiotic eardrops, with the remainder being due to fungi (different ear drops) or maybe viruses.

Anyway, I’d suggest going to a different doctor - ear infections aren’t always mild and easy to resolve. It seems I’ve become quite prone to them over the last several years (since living in humid countries). One of those, my first one, was a couple of years ago in Thailand, which I initially self-treated with amoxicillin and some ear drops. After a couple of very painful nights and no progress with the self-medication, I dragged myself to a hospital, where my ear canal was basically closed due to the swelling, so the ENT doctor had to force a strip of antibiotic-soaked cotton through (not fun). I went home with some more medicine, another appointment, and the advice to watch out for any problems with my facial muscles.

Those problems came a couple of days later, when the ear pain had pretty much gone but some water leaked out of one side of my mouth while drinking. Turns out the swelling was compressing some of the facial nerves on that side and the infection had gone to the mastoid bone, such that one side of my face was weak (scary). Cue about 10 days of 3x daily IV antibiotics followed by 2.5 months of oral ones (the bone is hard to penetrate), along with a couple of CT scans to monitor the infection. Apparently without antibiotics the prognosis is pretty poor (brain abscess typically followed by death).

This probably won’t be what happens to you of course, and it seems I was a rare case (apparently this complication mostly happens in the elderly, or diabetics, or immunocompromised people, of which I’m not any as far as I’m aware). So I’m paranoid about ear infections, but I’d still suggest seeing a competent doctor at a hospital and paying a couple of hundred TWD for the cultures rather than taking some vague mystery medicine.


Wow, that is scary and extreme, and I don’t think what’s happening to me. Or I will hope not. I’m glad you survived that!

My ear has been on and off “infected” (swollen? stuffed up?) for a lot of years now.

I think it started when water got trapped in there scuba diving (I was diving in a swimming pool, so we’re not talking about extreme depths in the ocean). It took a few weeks of water sloshing around my head (like standard when water is trapped in your ears after swimming) before I finally went to the doctor, who gave me nasal decongestant spray, which cleared it right up.

I went diving in Panama the following summer, with no problems, so I thought I was fine.

It’s been in the past 2-3 years that I get sort of “flare-ups” when there’s a lot of air pressure (storms coming), bad pollution, or, lately, allergies (accompanied by a stuffed up nose, so just generally angry sinuses). It wasn’t a problem in the first years of being in Taiwan, and I do remember it being annoying when I was back in the States, where humidity and climate control are a less less bad.

My mom has some serious sinus problems, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I inherited those. Usually the flare ups are just a “stuffed up” ear feeling (no amount of any “tricks” do anything) but I went to the doctor because it reached the point where my ears were ringing constantly, moderate noises hurt my ears, and my balance has been seriously impacted (I walk like a drunkard if I don’t focus all my energy on walking straight and have nearly fallen over when trying to stand up and turn around.) I feel like any Taiwanese doctor is going to raise their eyebrow at this story. This past one did tell me that “stress” causes these problems. 廢話. It’s not like I’m any more stressed now than I’ve been at any other point in my life.

So far on my list of medical things to take care of: 1) go to pharmacy and figure out what drugs I was given 2) go to hospital during COVID and get a proper diagnosis


It was pretty scary! It was also the first real time I’d been sick or needed to go to a hospital in my life, at least since I was a kid, and I think it played a major role in turning me into something of a hypochondriac over the last couple of years. Guess I’m getting old. :grimacing:

In any case, you might have tried this before, but a 1:1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is supposedly good for swimmer’s ear. It apparently helps dry out the ear canal (because of the alcohol) and make it less hospitable to infection (because of the acid). I usually do this after showering to reduce the likelihood of ear infections - as I said, I’ve become a bit paranoid about them since the first one, and I’ve had a couple more mild fungal ear infections in Taiwan since then, which were originally misdiagnosed as bacterial infections when I visited ENT clinics - not really painful, but kind of itchy and annoying, and obviously not resolved by the antibiotic eardrops I was given.

It seems to help in my case, so could be worth reading more about it and trying if you haven’t already. I would suggest going to the doctor before that though (apparently you shouldn’t use these homemade eardrops if the tympanic membrane/eardrum is ruptured or damaged, and the ENT doctor should check that).

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Not my experience.

Never been to a clinic or hospital in the North country, but in the South I find the doctors extremely open to discussion and negotiation of meds and other treatments.

Once convinced a shrink to put me on lithium + valproic acid (on a hunch). My friends were shocked with my new-found energy (7 am at the driving range, in my office 12 hours a day), but made me nuttier than a squirrel’s turd. Yeah, also negotiated dosages and combinations of meds (sedatives, for example) as well.

These Southern docs are surprisingly accommodating, even issuing scripts for meds they’re not familiar with, if you can convince them. Not advising anyone to act similarly, but we have a right to be involved and informed.

You definitely should look for another doctor and report this, one of possible.
I hate those doctors that only want to find excuses to suck as much money from NHI as they can. They don’t even check the patient and start prescribing medicines. Totally irresponsible! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

BTW, you said that he examined other patients in front of you without washing hands. How do you know? Didn’t they have to go to his office or something? No privacy during the exams?

It was an open room with two chairs like at a dentist’s office. The friend I went with told me it felt like a Chinese clinic – everyone just hanging around watching everyone else, knowing about all your medical issues. When I came in, he was examining the person on the right’s ears, then went straight to the person on the left and poked around their mouth and nose without washing his hands, then called me over and went in to start examining my ears without washing his hands before I told him that was disgusting. The sink was in a grimy bathroom off to the side, the door of which he didn’t close, so I heard water running for about three seconds before he came back out. I asked my friend (Taiwanese) about reporting him. Was told that would not be remotely worth my time. Turns out my friend recorded the entire interaction on their phone. Even caught the nurse taking the temperature of each person before me without replacing the ear thing.

I thought SARS was supposed to have shifted Asian health places away from “antibiotics for all” and over to “keep clean to prevent infection in the first place!” but clearly that message was lost to many.


In case anyone wants to know, I did a neti-pot type thing (using a spoon…i don’t even know where you’d get a neti-pot) this morning to clear out my nose. Used coconut oil because apparently that’s better than salt water as it doesn’t dry things out. Heard a wonderful “pop” from my “infected” ear and feel quite cleared up now.

Yey for centuries-old solutions to things that doctors recklessly prescribe random unknown drugs for…


There you have it.
Place the video on their Facebook page or even at PTT.
Nothing speaks louder here than online shame.

But how many people would really care? My impression is that what the OP described isn’t totally outside the realm of “shit that happens in Taiwan”, especially outside of Taipei.


Litigation speaks way fucking louder than online shame.

Good luck with that in Taiwan, especially as a foreigner.

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I was referring to the doctor litigating against the OP.

ETA: “Good luck with that”?
Taiwanese people are fucking bananas for suing each other over perceived defamation.

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Gotcha. Good point.

Good point.
Hopefully, you are not talking by experience!