If you become sick while in Japan, the following blog post will relieve stress from talking to a doctor for sure. There are tons of medical problems, and it’s not easy to talk about them. However, with today’s lesson, you will learn vocabulary and phrases of some most common symptoms. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Imagine, you want to tell your Japanese friend that you’re not well. Pointing to your head and saying ここ… 痛い (koko… itai > here…hurts) can probably do the job, but how about learning to express your state in a more appropriate way?
Get an examination at hospital
This is the process of getting an examination at the hospital (病院 byōin) in Japan. First, you go to the reception and show the receptionist your insurance card. If you don’t have any because it’s your first visit, you will get one there. Then, wait to be called to the examination room where the doctor examines you based on your symptoms (症状 shōjō) and states a diagnose (診断 shindan). The doctor (医者 isha) prescribes you a medicine, which can be often just a cold medicine during the flu/cold season. You go to the pharmacy to pick up your pills and pay the bill at the payment desk.
- 受付 (uketsuke) reception
- 保険証 (hokensho) insurance card
- 診察室 (shinsatushitsu) examination room
- 診察 (shinsatsu) examination
- 薬局 (yakkyoku) pharmacy
- 会計窓口 (kaikeimadoguchi) payment desk
Say that you are sick
Grumbling about your health problems might be a real art, so start with these common phrases.
気分が悪いです。 (kibun ga warui desu) I feel sick/unwell
疲れました。(tsukaremashita) I am tired
病気です。(byouki desu) I am sick
If you see that your friend looks sick, you can use one of these questions.
病気ですか？ (byouki desu ka) Are you sick?
気分が悪いですか？ (kibun ga warui desu ka) Do you feel sick?
大丈夫ですか？ (daijoubu desu ka) Are you ok?
If you feel like it, you can give also a good advice to your friend. However, giving advises can be a little bit tricky. Read more about how to give proper advice in Japanese.
医者に行ったほうがいいです。(isha ni itta hou ga ii desu) You’d better go to the doctor.
薬を飲んだほうがいいです。(kusuri o nonda hou ga ii desu) You’d better take medicine.
Say you have a cold / a flu
First, differentiate between a cold and a flu. In Japan, you usually receive a cold medicine instead of antibiotics as a first aid. Because cold is what people usually suffer from. If you have a cold, you are supposed to do your everyday duties like a healthy person, but don’t forget to wear a face mask that surgeons wear.
風邪をひきました。(Kaze o hikimashita) I caught a cold / I have a cold
インフルエンザに感染した。(Infuruenza ni kansen shita.) I was infected with flu
Talk about your cold symptoms
If you have a cold, you experience some discomfort, but you can function almost like a healthy person. At least, that is what doctors say.
喉が痛いです。(nodo ga itai desu) My throat hurts
咳をする。(seki o suru) I cough
乾咳 (karazeki) dry cough
鼻水が出ます。 (hanamizu ga demasu) I have a runny nose
鼻ををむ。(hana o kamu) to blow one’s nose
Talk about your flu symptoms
Have you ever had a flu? I think you still remember the feeling. You feel weak and you’re just happy to stay in bed with a mug with herbal tea. To talk about this misery, you can use all phrases that apply to cold in addition of the following ones.
ひどい咳がでます (hidoi seki ga demasu.) I have a bad cough.
胸が痛いです。(mune ga itai desu) My chest hurts
熱 が あります (netsu ga arimasu) I have a fever
頭痛がします。(zutsuu ga shimasu) I have a headache.
頭痛です (zutsuu desu) I have a headache (this is just another expression)
頭が痛いです。(Atama ga itai desu) My head hurts
寒気がします (Samuke ga shimasu) I have chills
Other problems and symptoms
Here are some other health problems you might sometimes experience and want to discuss with the doctor. It’s quite a list, isn’t it?
背中 が かゆい です (Senaka ga kayui desu) My back is itching
よく眠れません。(Yoku nemuremasen) I can’t sleep.
下痢です。 (Geri desu) I have diarrhea.
便秘です。 (Benpi desu) I have constipation.
吐き気がします。 (Hakike ga shimasu) I feel nauseous.
吐きます。(hakimasu) I will throw up (vomit)
めまいがします。 (Memai ga shimasu) I’m dizzy.
炎症 (enshō) inflammation
ここが痛いです (Koko ga itai desu) This hurts (point to your body part)
むしば が あります (Mushiba ga arimasu) It is a tooth decay
発疹があります。 (hosshin ga arimasu) I have a rash.
このあざを見てください。 (kono aza o mite kudasai) Please look at this bruise.
妊娠しています (ninshin shite imasu) I am pregnant
高血圧ではありません (kōketsuatsu de wa arimasen) It is not high blood pressure
しゃっくりは止まりません。(shakkuri wa tomarimasen) I cannot stop the hiccup
出血しています。(shukketsu shite imasu) I am bleeding
骨折です。(kossetsu desu) It is a fracture (broken bone)
捻挫した足首 (nenza shita ashikubi) sprained ankle
Download a list with body parts
The list contains three pages full of various body parts in Japanese kanji, reading in hiragana and romaji, and translation to English. Click and download the list to your computer. You can use it as a hint to practice talking about what body part hurts.
Vocabulary and phrases related to taking medicine
Before we talk about dosage and stuff, here are some types of medicine that treat your health issues.
痛み止め (itamidome) painkillers
頭痛薬 (zutsū-yaku) headache medicine
風邪薬 (kazegusuri) cold medicine
咳止め (sekitome) cough medicine
錠剤 (jouzai) tablets / lozenges
目薬 (megusuri) eye drops
消毒薬 (shōdoku-yaku) disinfectant
胃腸薬 (ichō-yaku) gastrointestinal medicine
便秘薬 (benpi-yaku) laxatives
下痢止め薬 (geridome-yaku) antidiarrheal medicine
ビタミン剤 (bitamin-zai) vitamins
In Japanese, “to take medicine” is expressed with the verb nomu (to drink). The sentence construction is 薬を飲む (kusuri o nomu) to drink the medicine. You can get medication at the phrarmacy.
近くに薬局がありますか？ (chikaku ni yakkyoku ga ari masu ka) Is there a pharmacy nearby?
これ は なん の 薬 です か。 (Kore wa nan no kusuri desu ka.) What is this medicine?
私は処方箋が必要ですか？ (watashi ha shohousen ga hitsuyou desu ka) Do I need a prescription?
Almost all the medicine has a written note on the bottle about the dosage. Here are some examples.
朝３時間毎に (asa 3-jikan goto ni) every 3 hours in the morning
ねる前５時間毎に (neru mae 5-jikan goto ni) every 5 hours before going to sleep
1日2錠服用してください (ichi nichi ni jou fukuyou shite kudasai) take two pills a day, please
食後 に 飲んで ください。 (shokugo ni nonde kudasai) drink it after meal, please
食間に 飲んで ください。 (shokkan ni nonde kudasai) drink it during meal, please
食前２時間に (shokuzen 2-jikan ni) 2 hours before meal
Health-related expressions to use as a goodbye phrase
If you’re saying goodbye to your friend during a cold/flu season, you can say one of these phrases instead of a regular goodbye. It’s fine to use them also in a written conversation, for example e-mails or letters.
風邪を引かないで下さいね。(Kaze wo hikanai de kudasai ne) Don’t catch a cold
風邪に気をつけて下さい。(Kaze ni ki wo tsukete kudasai) Please be careful to not catch a cold
お大事に！ (Odaijini) Take care!
どうか、お大事にして下さい。(Douka odaijini shite kudasai) Please take care of yourself
早く治して下さい。(Hayaku naoshite kudasai) Get well soon please (polite expr.)
Example conversation with a doctor
Doctor: Itai kasho wa doko desu ka?
You: Koko ga itai desu.
Doctor: Shōjō ga dete dono kurai no kikan ga tachimasu ka?
You: Shōjō ga dete san nichi tachimasu.
Doctor: Nanika kusuri o fukuyō shite imasu ka?
You: Hai, shinzō-yaku desu.
Doctor: Where does it hurt? / Where is the painful part?
You: This hurts.
Doctor: How long have you felt this way?
You: I have felt this way for 3 days.
Doctor: Are you taking any medicine?
You: Yes, heart medicine.
Do you experience some of the symptoms described above right now?