The Ultimate Spanish Guide for Going to the Doctor


Going to the doctor is never fun. It is particularly challenging when the language is not your mother tongue. Because not only are you navigating new terms, you are likely additionally stressed because you’re not feeling well.

We put together this list of useful vocab if you find yourself in this specific situation. Knowing basic body parts is a good place to start, as well as being able to explain what’s wrong and knowing names for general hospital facilities. Hopefully, you will not need to use most of these, but as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, let’s get down to work!


First of all, we are going to have a look at the most common and basic medical vocabulary.



  • El hospital: The hospital
  • La clínica: The clinic
  • El ambulatorio: The exam room
  • El quirófano: The operating room
  • La ambulancia: The ambulance
  • La sala de emergencias: The emergency room
  • La enfermería: The clinic
  • La consulta: Office hours
  • La sala de espera: The waiting room
  • La farmacia: The pharmacy



  • El doctor/medico: The doctor
  • El cirujano: The surgeon
  • El enfermero; la enfermera: The nurse
  • El/la pediatra: The pediatrician
  • El seguro de salud: Health insurance



This might sound a bit basic for you, but it is important to know how to say the body parts in Spanish if you need to explain your medical problems. This is not an anatomy class, so don’t stress, we will only cover the most common words you need to know to explain your issues to the doctor.

  • La cabeza: Head
  • El brazo: Arm
  • La boca: Mouth
  • El codo: Elbow
  • El cuello: Neck
  • El corazón: Heart
  • El dedo de la mano: Finger
  • El dedo del pie: Toe
  • La espalda: Back
  • El pecho: Chest
  • La garganta: Throat
  • El estómago: Stomach
  • La barriga: Tummy, belly
  • La pierna: Leg
  • El ojo: Eye



Now that we have already covered the basic medical vocabulary, let’s dig into some of the most common symptoms, illnesses and medicaments in Spanish.



  • Inflamado: Swollen
  • Sensible: Sensitive
  • Dolorido/a: In pain or sore
  • Irritado/a: Irritated
  • Urgente: Urgent
  • La quemadura: Burn
  • La nariz taponada: Stuffy nose
  • La fiebre: Fever
  • La tos: Cough
  • Dificultad para respirar: Shortness of breath
  • El mareo: Dizziness
  • Estar mareado: To feel dizzy
  • El dolor: Pain
  • El vómito: Vomit
  • La acidez: Heartburn
  • Dolor de barriga/d cabeza: Bellyache/Headache
  • El picor: Itch



  • El resfriado: Cold
  • La gripe: Flu
  • La alergia: Allergy
  • La insolación: Sunstroke
  • La picadura de abeja/avispa: Bee/Wasp Sting
  • La herida: Injury
  • La fractura: Fracture
  • La infección: Infection
  • La otitis: Ear infection
  • La bronquitis: Bronchitis
  • Embarazada: pregnant
  • El virus (pronounced veer-rous): virus
  • La infección bacteriana: bacterial infection
  • La reacción alérgica: allergic reaction



  • La pastilla: Pill/Tablet
  • La pomada: Ointment/Cream
  • El jarabe: Syrup
  • El antibiótico: Antibiotic
  • El antiinflamatorio: Anti-inflammatory
  • El inhalador: Inhaler
  • El colirio/Las gotas de los ojos: Eyedrops
  • La inyección: Injection
  • La cirujía: Surgery
  • Los puntos: Stitches
  • La venda: Vandage
  • La receta: Prescription
  • El diagnóstico: Diagnosis



Great! Now you know the most common words you might need to use if you go to the doctor in a Spanish speaking country. The question now is, how do you explain your symptoms to the doctor and what is he going to say? In this section, we will learn about the most common sentences to speak about your health and the solutions the doctor might give you.

EXTRA TIP #1: Note in some of the phrases below that refer to a specific body part, we don’t use possessive pronouns like my head or your arm etc. Instead, you use the definite articles el or la. So a direct translation would be something like “I have hurt in the head” or “the foot” (not my head or my foot). See if you can spot this in the examples below:



  • Me encuentro mal/No me encuentro bien: I don’t feel well
  • Tengo fiebre: I have a fever
  • Me duele la cabeza: I have a headache
  • Me duele el estómago: I have a stomachache
  • Me duele… : I have a …ache
  • Estoy mareado: I feel dizzy
  • He tenido un accidente: I had an accident
  • Me golpeé la cabeza: I hit my head
  • Me he cortado: I cut myself
  • Me cuesta* respirar: I have trouble breathing
  • Me he caído: I fell

EXTRA TIP #2: Me cuesta is a common expression that doesn’t easily translate literally.  You’ve probably heard the verb ‘costar‘ which means to cost (¿cuánto cuesta? ring any bells). In this case however, it means something like ‘to cost myself’, which in a more native translation would mean ‘to have a tough time‘ doing something. So for example, me cuesta mucho encontrar trabajo = I found it very difficult to find work.


  • ¿Dónde te duele?: Where does it hurt?
  • Tienes que hacerte una prueba: You need to have a test done
  • Tienes que ir a urgencias: You have to go to the emergency room
  • Compra este product en la farmacia y tómatelo x veces al día: Buy this producto at the pharmacy and take it x times a day
  • No es grave: It is not serious
  • No puedes beber alcohol cuando tomes esta medicina: Do not drink alcohol when you are taking this medicine
  • ¿Es esta la primera vez que le pasa esto?: Is it the first time this has happened to you?
  • Necesitas puntos: You need stitches
  • Vuelve en x semanas: Come back in x weeks

Spanish Practice: A Spanish Story about Going to the Doctor

We’ve put together a little story in Spanish using many of the words you just learned.  Read the Spanish portion first and practice your translation. Then go back and spot the new vocabulary words.

Esta mañana María se levantó con dolor de cabeza y decidió ir al médico.

This morning, Maria woke up with a headache and she decided to go to the doctor.

Cuando llegó al hospital, tuvo que esperar en la sala de espera porque había más gente enferma.

When she arrived to the hospital, she had to wait in the waiting room because there were other people feeling sick.

A los pocos minutos, la enfermera le dijo que podía pasar a ver al doctor. Cuando entró a la consulta, el doctor le preguntó:

¿Qué síntomas tienes? ¿Dónde te duele?

A few minutes later, the nurse informed her that she could come in to see the doctor. When she entered the doctor’s office, he asked her:

What symptoms do you have? Where does it hurt?

María contestó:

Me encuentro mal. Esta mañana me he despertado con dolor de cabeza y creo que tengo fiebre.

María answered:

I don’t feel well. This morning I woke up with a headache and I think I have a fever.

Finish the story with our free PDF download …


Download the free PDF to finish the story and get a cheat sheet of all the vocabulary you just learned.


FREE PDF Cheat Sheet

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We hope you find this complete guide to go to the doctor in Spanish helpful and it will help you getting through any medical emergency. There’s a Spanish saying that goes Más vale prevenir que curar”, which basically means that it is better to prevent than to cure and now that you know the most common words and sentences to use in the hospital you are prepared to face any health inconvenience in Spanish. Don’t forget to download your free cheat if you ever need it again in the future!

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