Useful English vocabulary for going to the doctor (with body parts, symptoms and illness names)

Useful English vocabulary for going to the doctor (with body parts, symptoms and illness names)

by Adriana Stein

Updated November 10, 2022

No one wants to be in a scenario where they are living or travelling abroad and need to go to the doctor, but can’t speak the language. Fortunately, much of the medical world happens in English, so if you can speak English, this not only works for going to the doctor in English-speaking countries, but also in many other countries as well. In order to upgrade your English health vocabulary, here are the top words and phrases you might need to use for your next visit to the doctor.

Useful vocabulary for going to the doctor’s

In case you need to visit a doctor or need to go to the hospital, the below sections outline a wide variety of health-related vocabulary.

Quick note: If you’re in Germany or the EU, we’ve outlined the steps you need to take to make an emergency call here.

Body parts

You can find an overview of all the names of the body parts in the image below:

parts of the body in English labeled


The below table provides an overview of words and phrases related to injuries:

Word or PhraseDefinition
injuryA general term of any physical impairment
pain/sore/acheGeneral terms for physical discomfort
bruiseA black and blue spot that develops after an injury
cut/wound/scratchA skin opening that occurs after an injury
broken (body part)When bone is broken such as a broken leg
sprained (body part)When a muscle is sprained such as a sprained ankle
biteWhen something bites you such as an insect or animal

Illness symptoms

This table gives you an overview of terms related to illnesses:

Word or PhraseDefinition
ill/sickA general feeling of discomfort within the body
vomitDischarge of stomach contents via the mouth
feverA body temperature above the normal temperature
sore throatPainful feeling in the throat
swellingWhen a body part is abnormally enlarged
blood pressureThe rate that blood flows through the body
pulseThe consistency in beats at which blood flows through the body
chillsWhen you feel cold in an abnormal context
upset stomachA general feeling of discomfort in your stomach
difficulty/trouble breathingWhen you have problems to breath normally
faint/pass outWhen you lose consciousness for a short period of time
Runny noseWhen excessive internal fluids come through the nostrils

Common illnesses and diseases

Here are some names of common illnesses and diseases:

Word or PhraseDefinition
coldCommon symptoms are coughing, a sore throat, and runny nose
fluCommon symptoms are a fever, muscle aches, and congestion (more serious than a cold)
headacheWhen a part of your head hurts
pneumoniaWhen flu symptoms persist intro a stronger form
rashA group of spots on the skin that develops as a reaction to something
infectionWhen bacteria or viruses enter and attack the body that aren’t normally there
inflammationThe swelling or enlargement of a certain area
heart attackWhen the heart ceases to function due to a blood clot
indigestionTrouble with digesting something
ulcerWhen the normal functionality of an organ is somehow disrupted
asthmaDifficulty breathing on a permanent or semi-permanent basis
strokeWhen blood supply to the brain is reduced, interrupted or stopped
arthritisDifficulty to move certain muscles or joints
diabetesWhen people have too much sugar (glucose) in their blood
cancerWhen the body’s cells begin to abnormally divide and spread
amnesiaWhen a patient has trouble remembering things
allergiesWhen you can’t eat or touch a certain item such as a nut allergy

Medicine, healing, and medical procedures

The below table describes different terms used for medicine, healing, and a few common types of medical procedures:

Word or PhraseDefinition
patientAnyone who visits the doctor
pills/tabletsMedicine that is swallowed in the form of a circle or oblong shape
medicineAny type of substance or material intended to heal a patient
cureA type of medicine or action that stops an illness or injury
bandageThe wrapping that goes around a wound
injectionMedicine given within the bloodstream through a needle
antisepticA substance used to kill bacteria in the surrounding area
castThe strong material that holds bones in place such as what you wear after breaking your leg
crutchesThe supports you use to walk after an injury
thermometerAn instrument that takes your body temperature
stethoscopeAn instrument used to listen to your heart beat
x-rayAn instrument that takes images of the internal bodily structure
antibioticsMedication that’s given to kill bacterial infections
surgery/operationA procedure that involves making internal improvements to the body in some manner

Types of doctors

This table outlines the official names of different types of doctors and which medical field they specialise in:

Type of DoctorWhat they specialise in
NurseThe person who supports the doctors and takes care of patients
AllergistA doctor who specialises in allergies
AnesthesiologistA doctor who administers anesthesia
DentistA doctor who focuses on teeth and oral health
DermatologistA doctor who specialises in skin
GynecologistA doctor who specialises in female reproductive health
MidwifeA doctor who helps deliver babies
NeurologistA doctor who specialises in the brain and neurosystems
OncologistA doctor who specialises in cancer and tumors
PediatricianA doctor who works with children
Physical TherapistA doctor who improves the muscles and body movement
PsychiatristA doctor who specialises in mental health

We hope you won’t need to use this health related vocabulary very often, but we hope when you do, it’s helpful!

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