How to talk to the doctor in Spanish without annoying confusions

In today’s blog post, I want to share some of the most useful phrases to use when you go to the doctor in Spanish.

Just imagine that you go on a happy vacation to Colombia, but during the 3rd day of your time there you get sick and you end up in front of a doctor who speaks only Spanish.

Would you know how to describe how bad you feel? Let’s go through some different phrasesthat might be very handy when you see a doctor in Spanish.

How to talk to the doctor in Spanish

In general, in South America, most visits to the doctor follow the same order. After you get to the doctor’s office, he’ll probably ask you about some personal info, like:

  • Nombre = Your name
  • Edad = Your Age
  • Ocupación = Occupation
  • Estado civil = Marital status
  • Dónde vives = Where you live

I know, that’s pretty basic. However, the doctor needs more info in order to help you heal from whatever you’re feeling, so he could probably shot you with this question:

¿Sufre de alguna enfermedad crónica? = Do you have any chronic condition?

Or, he’ll probably be a little more direct when asking this, he could just say:

¿Sufre de algo?

Here’s when you are supposed to tell him about any chronic condition that you have, you may do so by saying, “sufro de…”, for example:

  • Sufro de Diabetes = Diabetes.
  • Sufro de Cancer = Cancer.
  • Sufro del corazón = Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Sufro de Artritis = Arthritis.
  • Sufro de migraña = Migraines.

The doctor might also ask you about former surgeries that you had in the past, he could say:

¿Lo han operado de algo?

Notice that this question is referring to past events, so the correct way of answering this is using the past tense, “me operaron de…”, for example:

  • Me operaron de apendicitis = I had a surgery for appendicitis
  • Me operaron de la vesícula = I had a gallbladder surgery
  • Me operaron de la cataratas = I had surgery on the cataracts
  • Me operaron de las Amígdalas = I had an operation on the tonsils

As you say this, the doctor should be writing everything down, and then he should ask you about illnesses in your family. He might say: “¿Enfermedades familiares?”, or “¿Enfermedades en la familia?”.

After that, the doctor could ask:

  • ¿Qué tiene?
  • ¿Qué te pasa?
  • ¿Por qué consultas?

Any of these questions only means that the doctor wants you to tell him exactly why you went to see him.

Talk about your symptoms to the doctor in Spanish

Something you can say when talking to the doctor in Spanish is using the phrase, “Me duele…”, or “Me duele mucho…”plus the part of the body that hurts you, for instance:

  • Me duele la cabeza.
  • Me duele el estomago.
  • Me duele la garganta.
  • Me duele la espalda.

On the other hand, if you tripped and you hurt some part of your body, or it turns out that something hit you, you may use the phrases, “Me lastimé…”, or “Me golpee”, for instance:

  • Me golpee la rodilla
  • Me lastimé el dedo
  • Me golpee la espalda
  • Me lastimé la cabeza
  • Me golpee una mano

Note:Most Spanish native speakers say, “me golpié” instead of “me golpeé”. This is a mistake, but if you want to sound more natural and “native”, then you should definitely say “Me golpié”.

Another way of describing your symptoms is by using the phrase, “Tengo dolor de…”, for example:

  • Tengo dolor de cabeza = I have a headache.
  • Tengo dolor de estómago = I have stomach ache.
  • Tengo dolor de garganta = I have sore throat.
  • Tengo dolor de espalda = I have backache
  • Tengo fiebre = I have fever.
  • Tengo un resfriado = I have a cold.
  • Tengo gripe = I have flu.
  • Tengo tos = I have a cough.

Finally, after the doctor examines you, he or she might write down a prescription that contains all the medicines that you should take.

The prescription is called “Fórmula”, or “Fórmula médica” (This is how we call it in Colombia, other countries might say “receta médica”), and the medicines are called “Los medicamentos”.

Also, if you need some medical tests, you and the doctor might talk about:

  • “Exámenes médicos” = Medical tests.
  • “Exámenes de sangre”, or “Hemograma” = Blood tests.
  • “Exámenes de orina” = urine tests.
  • “Exámenes de materia fecal” = Fecal tests.

Don’t just talk to your doctor in Spanish

If you have the chance to visit a Spanish speaking country, take the most out of your visit and try to learn the most Spanish you can.

Don’t let an illness ruin the time of your trip, follow your doctor’s instructions and keep enjoying your time there.

Now, if you are interested in improving your Spanish before traveling you have to download my checklist: Spanish Mastery For Intermediate Students In 10 Simple Steps, do it in the form below.

Finally, I’m curious, have you been sick in a Spanish speaking country? tell me your experience in the comments below!

Travelers often find themselves struggling to talk to doctors during their trips. This article is a practical guide to talk to a doctor in Spanish.

Diego Cuadros is a blogger and a Spanish online teacher. He uses stories to help Spanish lovers understand fast-speaking native speakers, so they don't freeze and panic in conversations.

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