Has it ever happened to you to feel sick in Italy and don’t know how to indicate your problem to the doctor? We hope that it never happened and never will, but… just in case, we decided to make this lesson on what one should say in difficult situations related to health.
Italian medical and health vocabulary
The first thing you need to know is how you can say that something is wrong with you: generally, you can say: “non mi sento bene!”, “sto male!” or “mi sento male!” (I don’t feel well, I feel bad)
Then you’d better call a doctor, if it’s not an emergency we can go to the Guardia Medica, instead, if the situation is serious and we need an examination or immediate cures we could go to the nearest pronto soccorso (emergency room).
But what can you do if you feel extremely sick? Chiamare un’ambulanza (call an ambulance) at the number 118 indicating your position and possibly the nature of your problem.
But why is it so important to go to the doctor? Can’t you go directly to the drugstore to buy the medicines if you know what the problem is? Not exactly, in Italy you can’t buy medicines by simply going to the drugstore, for some medicines you need to show a medical prescription, which can only be written by a doctor, to the farmacista (pharmacist/chemist).
Now we need to talk about the most common health problems that a person can have; the terms can change in relation to where the pain is located; if we have pain in our head, we will say that we have “mal di testa“ (headache), if the pain is in the stomach we will say that we have “mal di stomaco“ (stomachache), if the pain is the belly, we will say that we have “mal di pancia“ (bellyache)… These are some of the most common health problems with a “peculiar” name, while for all other body parts it will be sufficient to say “ho dolore a” (I have pain) + il nome della parte del corpo che vi fa male (the body part that hurts): never underestimate un dolore al petto (o torace) (chest/thorax pain)
We can also have other common disturbi di salute (health problems) which are tosse (cough) and starnuti (sneezes) (that are usually symptoms of a raffreddore – cold -), febbre (fever) measurable with a termometro (thermometer), vomito (vomit, puke) (usually caused by an indigestione – indigestion -) and diarrea (diarrhea).
Auguriamo una pronta guarigione to all people suffering! (we wish you a speedy recovery).
Why don’t you have a look at all our other Italian lessons?
Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!