139 Useful Spanish Medical Terms for Travelers and Medical Professionals Alike
Learning Spanish medical terms is a prescription for success.
Yes, that applies to you, even if you’re not a doctor.
Medical Spanish is useful for anyone—and we mean anyone.
When you hear about medical Spanish, you might think that it’s just for doctors in areas with large Spanish-speaking populations. Well, we’ve got news for you: Medical Spanish is so much more than that.
Medical Spanish is useful for medical professionals, travelers, everyday folks and anyone who wants to be equipped to help people out in an emergency.
So, let’s get you started off right with our 139 useful medical Spanish terms by delving into the “whys” behind learning them first.
Why You Should Learn Medical Spanish
One reason why many people learn medical Spanish is to prepare to work in a medical field. Plenty of jobs require Spanish, including some great ones in the medical field.
Even if a job doesn’t require Spanish, there are still economic advantages to learning it. Learning proper medical terms is a good way to work towards better Spanish for business, particularly if you’re working in any healthcare or medical field. Learning medical Spanish will definitely open up your job options if you’re looking for work in the medical field.
Another reason to learn medical Spanish is to prepare you to assist a Spanish-speaker in a medical emergency. You’re just that good of a person. Many EMTs don’t speak Spanish, and some hospitals and clinics lack sufficient Spanish-speaking staff. While they have professional translators they can call, there isn’t always time in an emergency. Being able to pitch in and help with your Spanish skills could literally save a life. That being said, you could always use your knowledge to become one of those on-call translators, too!
We’re sure you’ll want to learn medical Spanish in order to communicate in a medical emergency abroad. It’s not an ideal situation, of course, but something could happen while you’re traveling. Hopefully you’ve followed the advice of Travel + Leisure and prepared ahead of time for this possibility, but learning some medical terms is still good backup.
Learning medical Spanish is also valuable in order to communicate an underlying medical condition while abroad. If you have any chronic conditions, it’s important to know the terms to describe your condition and associated symptoms. This way, if your condition flares up abroad, you can still get help. Putting together your own advanced Spanish vocabulary list will help you keep track of all the terms related to your condition. You might even keep it in your suitcase when you travel.
You should also learn some medical Spanish in case you need medication abroad. Try to bring your own medications whenever possible, and make sure you follow the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers’ guidelines so that hopefully you’ll have all the medications you need. Still, you never know when you’ll have a terrible headache and need help finding the right over-the-counter medication to fix it. Being able to describe what’s happening is key to getting the assistance you need.
139 Useful Spanish Medical Terms for Travelers and Medical Professionals Alike
Dolor means “pain.” It can refer to either physical or mental pain.
Enfermo/enferma often acts as an adjective meaning “sick.” However, it can also act as a noun meaning “sick person” or “patient.”
As is standard with Spanish-language adjectives and nouns, we use the masculine –o ending when referring to boys and men and the feminine –a ending when referring to girls and women.
Enfermedad can refer to an illness, sickness or disease.
4. ¿Cuál es el problema?
What is the problem?
5. Me duele/duelen la/el/las/los…
Me duele/duelen la/el/las/los… is like saying “My ______ hurt/hurts.” For instance, me duele la cabeza means “my head hurts.” Me duelen los pies means “my feet hurt.”
6. Tengo dolor de…
Tengo dolor de… means “I have a pain/ache of…”
So, for instance, you might say tengo dolor de cabeza to mean the equivalent of “I have a headache.”
7. Estoy enfermo/enferma.
Estoy enfermo/enferma means “I am sick.” Following standard grammar rules, a man would use enfermo while a woman would use enferma.
8. Siéntese aquí, por favor.
Sit here, please.
You’ll notice in this and the following phrases that, when speaking to patients, medical personnel will generally use the formal usted form of “you.”
9. ¿Tiene seguro médico?
Do you have medical/health insurance?
10. Necesito ver su…
I need to see your…
11. Tarjeta de seguro médico
Medical/health insurance card
12. ¿Cuál es su…?
What is your…?
15. Nombre completo
Complete name (first and last)
16. Número de seguro social
Social security number
17. Número de teléfono
When they ask for your dirección at check-in, it means “address.” However, the same word can also mean “direction,” “steering” (for a car) or “management.”
19. ¿En qué trabaja?
¿En qué trabaja? is the equivalent of “What field do you work in?”
20. ¿Quién es su contacto de emergencia?
Who is your emergency contact?
21. Signos vitales
Presión means “pressure,” but in medicine, it’s also used to mean “blood pressure.”
28. Pérdida de peso
29. Mal apetito/poco apetito
Mal apetito means “bad appetite” while poco apetito means “poor appetite.”
30. Malestar en el estómago/trastorno estomacal
Both malestar en el estómago and trastorno estomacal are used to refer to an upset stomach. Malestar en el estómago literally means “discomfort in the stomach” while trastorno estomacal more literally means “upset stomach.”
Vómito can refer to the act of vomiting or the vomit itself.
37. Falta de aire
Shortness of breath
Mareo can mean nausea, motion sickness or dizziness.
Hinchazón can refer to swelling, bloating or a bump/lump.
Roncha can refer to a bump, a lump or a hive.
Picazón, comezón and picor can all refer to an itch.
45. Presión baja
Low blood pressure
46. Presión alta
High blood pressure
In a medical context, paciente usually means “patient,” as in a sick person. However, paciente can also mean the adjective “patient” which is like “tolerant.”
In a medical setting, consultorio can mean “doctor’s office” or “surgery.” In other contexts, it can refer to another office or a consultancy.
58. Sala de espera
59. Sala de emergencia
60. Sala de cuidados intensivos
Intensive care unit
61. Sala de maternidad
62. Sala de operaciones
63. Sala de recuperación
Examen is very versatile. In a medical context, it can mean “test,” “exam” or “checkup.” In can also refer to “exams” in the academic sense.
66. Análisis de sangre
Análisis de sangre literally means “analysis of blood.” In English, we generally call this “blood test” or “blood work.”
Tomografía means “tomography” which includes various imaging techniques like CT scans and MRIs.
Radiografía means “radiography” which includes imaging techniques like x-rays.
In a medical context, pastilla means “pill.” However, it can also mean “microchip,” “bar” (of soap) and a plethora of other things.
Píldora generally means “pill.” However, it’s also used to refer to the birth control pill in particular.
In a medical context, this usually means “tablet.” However, it can also mean “tablet” in a computing context. Additionally, it can refer to a bar of chocolate (which also has curative powers).
This can refer to a cream or lotion. However, it can also be used to reference another kind of cream—the edible dairy product.
82. Espina/Columna vertebral
Hueso means “bone” in a medical context. Otherwise, it can also refer to the pit in a fruit.
In anatomy, lengua means “tongue.” Otherwise, it can also mean “language.”
97. Vesícula biliar
Apéndice can refer to the appendix in your body or in a book/document.
In anatomy, vejiga means “bladder.” However, vejiga can also mean “blister.”
In anatomy, muñeca means “wrist.” However, it can also mean “doll.”
Mano generally means “hand,” but in some contexts it could also mean “pal,” “mitt” or several other things.
Dedo means “finger.” However, dedo del pie means “toe.”
126. Conmoción cerebral
128. Enfermedad cardíaca
129. Ataque al corazón/Infarto/Paro cardíaco
132. Apoplejía/Derrame cerebral
138. Faringitis estreptocócica
139. Intoxicación alimenticia
These 139 useful medical terms and phrases will prepare you for any situation.
Use them in good health!