Last week we covered (wrote about) some English medical vocabulary that you can use when you visit a doctor. But what words should you use for when you’re sick? Having the right vocabulary to describe what you’re feeling can go a long way when you pay a visit to a hospital, so we figured we would give you some more health English phrases to help you describe your symptoms.

So when you’re feeling under the weather (sick, ill), here is some health English to help you describe what you’re feeling and help you feel better faster.

Running a Temperature

When you feel sick, you may feel very hot. Then you may feel really cold. After that you may go back to feeling hot again. This happens when you’re running a temperature, which is when your body temperature is higher than it is when you are healthy (fit, feeling 100%).

This is a very common symptom of being sick, so your doctor is sure to know how to help you out.

For example:

  • Can you take me to the doctor, please? I think I’m running a temperature.
  • He’s running a temperature. Should we take him to the hospital?

Feeling Nauseous

Do you feel sick to your stomach (nauseous) when you’re in a car that is driving quickly around many corners, maybe in the mountains? Or after you have eaten some bad food? Then you can tell the doctor that you’re feeling nauseous.

For example:

  • I’m feeling really nauseous today and I can’t keep any food down (in the stomach).
  • She can’t sit in the backseat of the car, otherwise she feels nauseous.

Sore Throat

Have you ever felt a swollen, burning sensation (feeling) in the back of your throat? Then you have probably had a sore throat.

Having a sore throat is a typical symptom of many illnesses, some more serious than others, so if you have a sore throat, you will definitely need this health English phrase when you go to the doctor’s.

For example:

  • I can’t swallow anything because my throat is sore.
  • The child had a sore throat, so the doctor gave her some medication for it.

Stuffy Nose / Runny Nose

When you have a head cold, it’s likely that you’ll have both a stuffy and runny nose at different times.

stuffy nose is when your nose is blocked and you can’t breathe through it. This may alternate with a runny nose, where it feels like your nose is leaking like a faucet (dripping/running out like water). Stuffy and runny noses can be one of the most frustrating parts of being sick, but the good news is that it will clear up (go away) in a few days!

For example:

  • My nose is so stuffy. I can’t smell or taste a thing!
  • May I have a tissue, please? My nose is runny.

Back Pain

Having back pain can be extremely annoying, and becomes unfortunately more common the older you get. You may experience pain in your middle or lower back, and a doctor will be able to advise you as to how best to handle it.

For example:

  • I’ve been having a lot of pain in my lower back. Is there something you can give me for it?
  • It seems like the older you get, the more back pain you have.

Pull a Muscle

If you do a lot of sports, this will probably be something you experience at some point or another. A pulled muscle can be very painful, and it’s important to rest it enough so that you can recuperate (get better).

When you pull a muscle, it may feel like a tear or rip and it can be painful to move. Resting (not doing activity, staying still) will help you recover (heal, get better again), along with advice from a doctor.

For example:

  • I can’t come to practice today. I pulled a muscle last night and I can’t walk properly.
  • pulled a leg muscle while running yesterday. What can I do for it?

Health English is a very important thing to know that you may not learn in an English class. Make sure to study up so you know how to use the right health English phrases to talk to a doctor about your symptoms!


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Check out these other popular blogs: TV English VocabularyBanking English VocabularyEnglish Comma: Basic Rules, or these Commonly Confused Words used in English!

Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and hates feeling under the weather. Hopefully you will stay healthy, too! 

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