Important Health-Related English Vocabulary

Learn Common English Words to Use With Your Doctor

Learning to express yourself in English when talking about your health can be difficult. While you don't need to understand the more technical, scientific, or medical language doctors and other healthcare providers use, it is helpful to know basic health-related vocabulary. This page provides some of the most common English vocabulary used to talk about health and healthcare. You'll find important categories with an example sentence to help show context for each word provided in this vocabulary overview. 

Illnesses

  • Ache - The ache is getting worse. What should I do?
  • Earache - I've got a horrible ear ache today.
  • Headache - I woke up with a pounding headache this morning.
  • Stomach ache - Don't eat too much chocolate or you'll get a stomach ache.
  • Toothache - Go to the dentist for your toothache.
  • Cancer - Cancer seems to be the plague of modern life.
  • Cold - People sometimes work if they've only got a cold.
  • Cough - He has a strong cough. He should take some cough syrup.
  • Flu - It's common to feel aches and pains, as well as have a slight fever when you've got the flu.
  • Heart attack - A heart attack doesn't need to be fatal in modern times.
  • Heart disease - Heart disease affects a lot of families. 
  • Infection - Make sure to clean the wound so you don't get an infection
  • Infectious disease - She caught an infectious disease at school.
  • Pain - Where do you feel the pain?
  • Virus - There is a virus going around at work. Take lots of vitamins.

Minor Injuries

  • Bruise - I have this bruise from hitting myself with a door!
  • Cut - Put a bandage on your cut.
  • Graze - That's just a graze. It's nothing serious.
  • Wound - That wound needs to be treated by a doctor. Go to the emergency room.

Medical Treatment

  • Bandage - Use this bandage to stop the bleeding.
  • Check-up - I have a check-up next month. 
  • Dose (of medicine) - Make sure to take your dose of medicine at ten o'clock.
  • Drugs - The doctor can prescribe drugs if necessary. 
  • Injection - Some medicine is given by injection.
  • Medicine - Regularly take the medicine and you should have no problems.
  • Operation - Ron has a serious operation on Friday. 
  • Pain-killer - Opiates are a type of pain-killer that can be very addictive. 
  • Pill - Take one pill before you go to bed.
  • Tablet - Take one tablet with each meal.
  • Tranquilizer - This tranquilizer will calm your nerves so you can rest.

People in Healthcare

  • Dentist - The dentist gave me a check-up and cleaned my teeth.
  • Doctor - The doctor can see you now.
  • General Practitioner - Most families have a general practitioner to help them with most needs. 
  • Midwife - Many women choose to have a midwife help with the birth of their baby. 
  • Nurse - The nurse will come in to check on you every hour.
  • Patient - The patient has a broken rib and nose.
  • Specialist - The specialist was excellent but extremely expensive. 
  • Surgeon - Surgeons need to have nerves of steel as they cut into the flesh during an operation.

Places in Healthcare

  • Hospital - I'll meet you at the hospital and we can stop in to see Peter who's recovering from surgery.
  • Operating Room - The surgeon entered the operating​ room and began the operation
  • Waiting Room - You can sit in the waiting room until he's finished.
  • Ward - Mr. Smith is in the ward at the end of the hall.

Health-Related Verbs

  • Catch - Most people catch a cold from time to time.
  • Cure - It took the doctor six months to cure the illness.
  • Heal - A wound can take a long time to heal.
  • Hurt - The boy hurt his ankle playing basketball.
  • Injure - I injured myself climbing a tree!
  • Operate on - The surgeon will operate on the patient at three o'clock.
  • Prescribe - The doctor prescribed an antibiotic to help the wound heal.
  • Treat - We'll treat anyone who has a health issue.

Health-Related Adjectives

  • Fit - He's a fit young man. He shouldn't be worried.
  • Ill - Unfortunately, she looks ill today.
  • Sick - Do you feel sick?
  • Healthy - Eat healthy food and get regular exercise. 
  • Unhealthy - Eating fatty foods and lots of sweets is very unhealthy.
  • Painful - The painful arm was held in a cast.
  • Unwell - Many students are feeling unwell.
  • Well - I hope you get well soon.