How to Talk about Health Problems in English

Learning how to talk about health problems is very important when you have to go to the doctor or call for help.

To be able to talk about health problems, you need to be familiar with key vocabulary and structures such as:

  • Key vocabulary about diseases, disorders and injuries.
  • Common questions to ask for someone’s health
  • Structures to give recommendations about Health Problems

Let’s learn more things about health problems in English

Vocabulary: Diseases, Disorders and Injuries

This is key vocabulary about diseases, disorders and injuries and other health related problems.

  • Skin: skin irritation, skin inflammation, redness, tenderness, swelling, rash,  itching, acne, pimple, blister, burn, scar, scratch
  • Eye: nearsightedness, farsightedness,conjunctivitis, , cataract.
  • Ear: wax blockage, hearing loss, earache, ruptured eardrum.
  • Nose, throat, lungs: nosebleed, runny nose, stuffy nose, rhinitis,  hay fever, sinusitis, a cold, laryngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma.
  • Heart and circulation:  high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, cardiac arrest.
  • Blood: anemia, bleeding, internal bleeding, hemorrhage, leukemia.
  • Brain and nervous system: headache, migraine, dizziness ,  meningitis, epilepsy, convulsions, seizure, stroke, paralysis, cerebral palsy, dementia.
  • Nutrition: vitamin deficiency , obesity, to be overweight, weight loss, anorexia, bulimia.
  • Stomach, intestines: indigestion,  upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, gastritis,  colitis, appendicitis,  cholera.
  • Liver: hepatitis, , cirrhosis.
  • Kidneys:  kidney stones.
  • Bones, joints: backache / back pain,osteoporosis, arthritis.
  • Muscles: muscle spasm, muscle cramp, muscular dystrophy, hernia.
  • Injuries: injury, wound, trauma, hand injury, knee injury, foot injury, head injury, concussion, contusion, fracture, fractured bone, sprained ankle, bruise to have a broken arm.
  • General infections: the flu / influenza, tuberculosis, tetanus, rabies, yellow fever,, smallpox, anthrax.
  • Infectious diseases:  measles,  polio, chicken pox, scarlet fever.
  • Hormonal disorders: diabetes.
  • Oncology: benign tumor, malignant tumor, cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, skin cancer.
  • Mental disorders: depression, phobia, schizophrenia.
  • Addictions: alcohol abuse, drug abuse.

Questions to Ask about Someone’s Health

These are the four most common question to ask about someone’s health.

  • What’s the matter?
  • What’s wrong?
  • How do you feel today?
  • How are you feeling?

Phrases to Talk about Health Problems – Going to the Doctor

These are some of the most common ways to talk about the health problems you might have.

Pronoun + Have /has + an /an + health problem

I have a stiff neckI don’t have a stiff neck
I have a twisted ankleI don’t have a twisted ankle
I have an ear infectionI don’t have an ear infection
She has a runny noseShe doesn’t have  a runny nose
He has a deep cutHe doesn’t have a deep cut
He has a sore throatHe doesn’t have a sore throat
You have a chest painYou don’t have a chest pain
They have a broken legThey don’t have a broken leg

When you talk about an accident you had, you have to make those sentences using the simple past.

In the following chart, it is shown how to make affirmative and negative sentences using the simple past.

Pronoun + broke + my/ her/ his + health problem

I broke my legI didn’t break my leg
I broke my armI didn’t break my arm
She broke her right leftShe didn’t break her right left
He broke her right armHe didn’t break her right arm
He broken his legHe didn’t break his leg

Phrases to Describe your Symptoms when Going to the Doctor

These are some phrases which can help your describe symptoms and health problems when going to the doctor.

I can’t sleep because my head aches too bad
I feel very sick, I don’t think I can work today.
He is covered in Bruises
She had such a high temperature
Our daughter has been diagnosed with cancer
She can’t come to school, she’s in bed with a cold
I think I caught a cold on the ice rink yesterday.
She says her stomach is still sore after the operation.
He injured his finger when he was cutting the meat.
I had such a horrible headache last night that I took two pain killers.
I’m afraid I’m pregnant; I vomit after getting up every morning.

How to Give Recommendations about Health Problems

This is the way to give recommendations to others when they talk about the health problems they have.

Pronoun + should +verb + article+ recommendation

  1. You should drink plenty of water
  2. You should take some medications
  3. She should take antibiotics for eight days before the tooth extraction
  4. You should drink a hot soup
  5. He should wear a knee-pad no matter what physical activity he does
  6. You should take vitamin C
  7. You should rest
  8. You should take some rest
  9. You should  take a painkiller
  10. You should apply a Ice Pack in the back of your neck

These are some other ways to give recommendations

  • You can take an aspirin for pain. 
  • You can take some time off
  • You could try drinking more water.  
  • You could try resting more
  • You may want to eat less.  
  • You may want to quit smoking
  • You might want to exercise more.  
  • You might want to quit drinking
  • would take some time off if I were you. 
  • I would start doing more exercises if I were you

Types of Doctors

These are some of the kind of doctors that you will find working in a clinic or hospital

  • Cardiologist: A heart doctor
  • Dermatologist: A skin doctor
  • Dentist: A doctor who treats teeth
  • Obstetrician: A doctor for female patients before and during pregnancy (c
  • Optometrist: An eye doctor
  • Orthopedic Doctor  A doctor who specialise in bones
  • Pediatrician: A doctor for children
  • Surgeon: A doctor who performs operations

Doctor and Patient Conversation

This is a doctor and a patient conversation that you can use a model to create other conversations.

Patient: Good morning. Doctor Johnson?
Doctor:  Hi, How can I help you Mr Smith? 
Patient: I’ve been having a back pain
Doctor: How long have you been having the pain?
Patient: I have been having this pain during the whole week
Doctor: Are you having any other problems along with the back pain?
Patient: It is just the back pain that is killing me
Doctor: OK. Let’s have a look. Can you point to the area where you are having pain?
Patient: It hurts right here in the lower back.
Doctor: Did you do any physical activity last week?
Patient: Yes, I helped my sister move into a new apartment
Doctor: It seems you have some inflammation but it is nothing serious
Patient: That’s a relief
Doctor: Just take some ibuprofen and the swelling should go down. You’ll feel better after that.
Patient: Thank you!

Health Problems and English Vocabulary

This is a good video so you can learn more about Health Problems and English Vocabulary

Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English