In sickness and in health

images (3)This morning started with an email from my dad in which he told me a friend of his had had to go to A&E (Accident and Emergency department of hospital) because she had unwittingly taken one of her cat’s tablets instead of her own blood pressure tablets.  Luckily, she’s fine and not showing any feline characteristics….yet.

It got me thinking of illness and medication as it’s quite a useful language point for anyone thinking of travelling to English-speaking countries.  When you are sick, the last thing you want to do is start looking things up in the dictionary.  Why don’t you brush up on some useful expressions now?

Everyday sickness

(have got) a cold.  You either have a runny nose which means you are pretty much surgically attached to your tissue box or you are bunged up: breathing through your nose is not an option.  For more severe colds you can get sachets of dissolvable powder from the chemist to give your immune system a boost.  Alternatively as Adrian Mole’s mother would advise: eat an orange.

(have got) the flu.  Not just a bad cold.  Added symptoms of nausea, headache etc.  Bed rest and strong painkillers are normally recommended for this beast.

(have got) man flu.  This is when a man has a cold.

(have got) a headache. You can buy aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprophen in many shops.  However, if you want as strong a dose as in Spain you will have to ask the chemist.

(have got) a cough.  Normally either chesty or tickly.  You can buy cough syrup for both kinds.

(have got) a sore throat.  An annoyance.  You can buy medicated lozenges.

(have got) hay fever.  This is the generic term for most pollen allergies.  You can buy tablets and nasal sprays.

(feel) sick.  This is when you think you are going to vomit/be sick/throw up/puke.

(have got) diarrhea. Never pleasant.  Other ways of saying it are (nicely) a dodgy tummy and (not so nicely) the runs.

(have got) a stomach ache/ tummy ache.

(have got) a hangover (to be) hung over.  The morning after the night before.  You feel rough as a dog.  People recommend countless remedies.


To cut oneself (eg. I’ve cut myself).  You might need to find a plaster for this.

(have got) a bruise/ to bruise.  No real cure for this one.  If you bruise like a peach as I do, you just have to deal with the blues, purples, greens and yellows of your skin until it gets back to normal.

To break one’s arm/wrist/leg/ankle/foot/toe (eg. I’ve broken my arm) Hospital time! You will probably have to have an x-ray and have it put in plaster (not the same type as for a cut!).

To twist/ sprain one’s arm…… Painful, but no broken bones.  For this you might need a bandage, a support or a sling to hold it in place.

Well those are the main ones I can think of at the moment.  Remember in any real emergency the number to call in the UK is 999 (911 in the States).


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