101 Must-know German Medical Words for German Learners before Seeing a Doctor

101 Must-know German Medical Words for German Learners before Seeing a Doctor

Going to a new country is incredibly exciting. You plan for so many different aspects of your journey and stay. However, you can't control everything that happens.

Although you hope to be healthy while you are abroad, you should plan to know how to talk to a doctor if one is needed. Learning just a few basics will give you what you need to know for a basic interaction with a medical professional.

Before diving into the specifics of the medical terms and phrases you need to know, make sure that you know the basics of the German language and how to ask directions so you can find a doctor.

Once you are done brushing up on those, you are ready to start getting into the more complicated world of health terms.


About German Doctors

As an English speaker, you definitely have your own perception of what doctors know and how they operate. You are also likely aware that every area is different, and that is certainly true when you go to a different country.
While every doctor has their own approach, there are some fairly universal aspects of German doctors.

The vast majority of German doctors speak English. This doesn't mean you don't need to know German - you should definitely make an effort to talk to them in German if you can - but if you are in really bad shape, you can focus on stating what's wrong. Don't expect the other staff members to be as adept with English though. You are going to need to use German with administrative staff and nurses. If you aren't comfortable or don't think that you can communicate through your pain or discomfort, make sure you bring someone else with you to visit the doctor.

The cost of seeing a doctor is much lower than in the US (if you are American) and is fairly comparable to other countries with nationalized healthcare. If you don't have insurance, be prepared to pay between 20 and 30 Euros to see a general physician, and at least 50 Euros for a specialist.
Most practices are on the smaller side, and they are usually on the first floor of buildings with apartments. They are also likely to have walk-in hours so you can find someone to treat you when you need it. Be prepared for the doctor to take your vitals as well. They don't rely on nurses to take the initial assessment, and then pass on the information. You may find this approach helps to streamline the process as you won't have to repeat whatever details you share.


Things to Consider

Before you go to Germany, take the time to make a checklist of things to consider in the event that you do get sick. You can keep this list on an app to help you. By thinking about it before you leave, you can make sure you don't forget anything important.

  • Are you injured? If so, what happened? Whether it was from exercising, hiking, or some other activity, make sure you have the necessary vocabulary to quickly help your doctor understand what you did to injure yourself.
  • Did you eat something that could have upset your stomach or do you think you may have food poisoning? You can save a list of the most popular German foods so you can tell your doctor what you ate that could be causing your problems.
  • Do you have allergies? Remember that there are both environmental and food allergies. If you have any known allergies, make sure to note that in your checklist, as well as doing some research to learn the terms specific to your allergies.
  • Do you have any other known health problems? You should take the time to save that information and keep it with your passport, as well as taking the time to learn the German vocabulary for those illnesses. ThoughtCo.com has a lengthy list of German Medical Terms that go well beyond the details on this page.


Medical Terms and Phrases

There are a lot of medical terms in any language, but you don't need to know all of them. Beyond the specialty words you should consider from the previous section, there are a lot of more common terms - some of these you can probably even use outside of a medical emergency.

Body Parts and Senses

You have a lot of body parts, but odds are that you can get by with just the most basic words if you have to visit a doctor. The following are the most basic words to help you at least identify where you are hurting or think that there may be a problem.

Arm der Arm
Back der Ruecken
Blood das Blut
Body der Korper
Bladder die Blase
Bone der Knocken
Chest die Brust
Ear(s) das Ohr(en)
Elbow der Ellbogen
Eye(s) das Auge(n)
Finger der Finger
Foot and Feet der Fuss and die Füße
Hand and Hands die Hand and die Hände
Head der Kopf
Heart das Herz
Knee as Knie
Leg das Bein
Lung(s) die Lunge(n)
Mouth der Mund
Muscle der Muskel
Neck der Hals
Skin die Haut
Stomach der Magen
Toe(s) der Zeh(en)
Tooth and Teeth die Zahn and die Zähne
Torso der Rumpf

It's likely you will need to describe how your senses are affected. Use the following words to talk about your physical perception, such as eye sight.

Balance das Gleichgewicht
Hearing das Gehör
Eyesight das Sehvermögen
Smell der Geruchssinn
Taste der Geschmacksinn
Touch der Tastsinn

General Terms

There are some additional terms that you will likely need to know, particularly as you try to find a doctor to help you. The following table provides the basic terms in the medical field.

Ambulance der Krankenwagen
Blood test eine Blutprobe
Blood pressure der Blutdruck
Concussion die Gehirnerschuetterung
Contagious Ansteckend
Doctor der Arzt, der Ärztin, der Doktor
Insurance Versicherung
Nurse die Krankenschwester
Surgery der chirurgische Eingriff
Surgeon der Chirurg / die Chirurgin
To become infected sich entzuenden

Describing Your Ailment

There are many things that may cause you problems, from a known health problem to symptoms. This is not a comprehensive list, but it does cover most of the basic terms you may need.

The following table lists the terms for symptoms to help you describe what is wrong.

Ache die Schmerzen
Allergies die Allergien
Backache die Rueckenschmerzen
Blister die Blase
Broken gebrochen
Chills das Kältegefühl
Constipation die Verstopfung
Contraceptive das Verhuetungsmittel
Cough der Husten
Diarrhea der Durchfall
Dizzy Schwindlig
Faint Schwach
Fever das Fieber
Headache die Kopfschmerzen
Infection Infektion
Injured Verletzt
Itching das Jucken
Joint das Gelenk
Migraine die Migrane
Muscle pains die Muskelschmerzen
Nauseous Uebel
Pain der Schmerz
Rash Hautausschlag
Sick Krank
Sleeplessness die Schlaflosigkeit
Swelling die Schwellung
Unwell Unwohl
Vomit das Erbrechen
Weak Schwach
Wheezing das Keuchen

The following is a list of illnesses to help you let the doctor know if you already have an ailment. Some of the following terms are also potential diagnoses.

Cancer Krebs
Chickenpox die Windpocken
Cold (virus) der Schnupfen
Depression die Depression
Diabetic der Diabetiker or die Diabetikerin
Heartattack der Herzinfarkt
Inflamed Entzuendet
Inflammation Entzündung
Influenza (the flu) die Grippe
Pregnant Schwanger


For most ailments, you probably won't need to know the specific name of a medicaiton. If you have a known health issue, you should take the time to learn the term in German before you leave the country (for example, insulin is das Insulin, which you would likely need to know if you are diabetic). Otherwise, you probably won't need more than the following few medicaiton types - these are the ones that most people will use a few times in their lives.

Anti-inflammatory das Entzündungshemmende
Antibiotics die Antibiotika
Injection die Spritze
Medication die Medikamente
Pain killer das Schmerzmittel
Prescription das Rezept


Improtant Phrases

There are two types of phrases you should know: phrases your doctor will use and ones that you may need to use.

To help describe your current state, learn the following phrases.

I feel dizzy Mir ist schwindlig
I’m feeling really unwell Ich fuehle mich echt mies
To have a fall Hinfallen
To have a heart condition Ein Herzleiden haben
To have heartburn Sodbrennen haben
To suffer from insomnia Unter Schlafloesigkeit leiden

Be prepared for the doctor to ask the following questions or to give to following commands.

Are you allergic to anything? Sind Sie gegen irgendetwas allergisch?
Where does it hurt? Wo tut es weh?
Cough, please. Husten Sie bitte.
Open your mouth. Machen sie den Mund auf
I am going to prescribe... Ich verschreibe Ihnen...

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that your health is not something that you should take lightly. If you don't feel well, make sure you go to a doctor. If nothing else, they can probably help you feel better more quickly. It's always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are traveling abroad.