Nobody really knows what it is but everyone can tell you what the symptoms are. Headache. Sore throat. Cough. General malaise. Diarrhea. Runny nose. Pick 3 and you can be pretty sure you have what seems to be constantly affecting locals and expats alike.
There are a million over-the-counter medicines for gripe (pronounced el gree-pay) in the pulperias of Nicaragua which help with the symptoms like Dolofin, Tabcin, Altadolor, and a few herbal remedies like lemongrass tea that might help if you believe in them.
Ask any local person and they will tell you to prevent getting the Gripe you have to wear socks on a ceramic floor. Don’t open the fridge on a hot day and do not, under any circumstances, drink anything cold at night! Ask a doctor and they will tell you to wash your hands, eat cleanly prepared food and bottled water. Maybe turn off the fan or keep your ears warm.
Speaking of doctors, go to one and they will look at you, poke around in your ear, ask a few questions and tell you that you have sinusitus or “a virus” that is going around. Then they will give you a prescription for antibiotics, usually ciprofloxacina, and tell you to rest. But wait, you ask, why give antibiotics for a virus? Because, the doctor says, your immune system is low and it will prevent any bacterial infection from setting in. What they won’t tell you is that they really don’t have anything for it but people expect to get medicine when they go to the doc, so that’s what the doc gives.
Take the medicine and in about two days you should start feeling better, and 100% in less than four. If you don’t, go to the hospital because you might have something more serious <coughdenguecough> <coughchikengunyacough>. At any rate, rest and relaxation should help.
My worst gripe lasted six months. I went to the doctor various times and he gave me a slew of different medicines which helped to varying degrees. Then I went back to the states for Christmas and it cleared up within 6 hours. When I returned home to Nicaragua I scoured my walls, closets and ceiling with bleach water because I suspected it was the mold. And sure enough, my symptoms stayed at bay and I felt much, much better.
Got gripe? Pick up some cipro and/or clean your house. Then wait it out.
Hope you feel better soon!
<written while sick with gripe>