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Discussing Cold and Flu Symptoms in Spanish

Discussing Cold and Flu Symptoms in Spanish

How to Describe Cold & Flu Symptoms in Spanish

When it’s cold and flu season you have tons of repetitive conversations with your patients about their cold and flu symptoms and treatments. Add COVID to the mix and now you’re discussing testing, isolation, etc.

In this lesson, we teach you how to describe and discuss cold and flu symptoms in Spanish. In addition to helping, you explain the next steps for your patients. Watch the following video.

Two important verbs we use when talking about cold and flu symptoms in Spanish are TENER & SENTIR(SE). Here is how they conjugate:

Tener = to have

Yo tengo = I have

Tú tienes = you (child) have

Él tiene = he has

Ella tiene = she has

Usted tiene = you (adult) have

Nosotros tenemos = we have

Ellos tienen = they have

Ellas tienen = they (women) have

Ustedes tienen = you all have

Sentir (e-ie) = to feel + noun

Yo siento dolor = I feel pain

Tú sientes … = you (child) feel

Él siente … = he feels

Ella siente… = she feels

Usted siente … = you (adult) feel

Nosotros sentimos … = we feel

Ellos sienten … = they feel

Ellas sienten … = they (women) feel

Ustedes sienten … = you all feel

ex. ¿Siente dolor cuando yo presiono aquí? = Do you feel pain when I press here?

Haber + tenido = have had

Yo he tenido = I have had

Tú has tenido = you (child) have had

Él ha tenido = he has had

Ella ha tenido = she has had

Usted ha tenido = you (adult) have had

Nosotros hemos tenido = we have had

Ellos han tenido = they have had

Ellas han tenido = they (women) have had

Ustedes han tenido = you all have had

Sentirse (e-ie) = to feel + adjective

Yo me siento fatigado = I feel fatigued

Tú te sientes … = you (child) feel

Él se siente … = he feels

Ella se siente… = she feels

Usted se siente … = you (adult) feel

Nosotros nos sentimos … = we feel

Ellos se sienten … = they feel

Ellas se sienten … = they (women) feel

Ustedes se sienten … = you all feel

ex. ¿Se siente fatigado todo el día o solamente en las noches? = Do you feel fatigued all day long or just in the evenings?

Some initial questions to help you ask about cold and flu symptoms in Spanish:

¿Cómo se siente? How do you feel?

¿Qué le pasa? What is the matter?

¿Qué síntomas tiene? What symptoms do you have?

¿Qué otros síntomas tiene? What other symptoms do you have?

¿Tiene______ ? Do you have ______?

¿Siente _____? Do you feel______?

¿Por cuánto tiempo ha tenido______? For how long have you had______?

¿Cuándo empezó? When did it start?

¿Cuándo siente______? When do you feel______?

Here are a few timing phrases and expressions your patients may use to describe their symptoms:

Antes de = before

Después de = after

De repente = suddenly

A veces = sometimes

Siempre = always

Nunca = never

Poco = a little

Mucho = a lot

Me duele = it hurts me

Me pica = it itches/stings me

Me arde = it burns me

Me cuesta = it’s hard for me

Common cold and flu symptoms in Spanish include:

En la cabeza:

Congestión = congestion

Nariz tapada = stuffy nose

Estornudo = sneezing

Goteo nasal = runny nose

Mareos = dizzyness

En el pecho:

Falta de aire = shortness of breath

Palpitaciones = palpitations

Silbidos = wheezing

Tos persistente = persistent cough

Tos seca / con flema = dry cough / cough with phlegm

En el cuerpo:

Cólicos = stomach cramps

Diarrea (con sangre) = diarrhea (with blood)

Entumecimiento = numbness

Hormigueo = tingling

Estreñimiento = constipation

Fatiga = fatigue

Sueño = tiredness, sleepiness

Gas (abdominal) = gas

Hinchazón, Inflamación = swelling, inflammation

Fiebre y sudores (nocturnos) = fever and (night) sweats

Náuseas y vómitos (con sangre) = Nausea and vomiting (with blood)

Temblores (shaking)

En la piel:

Enrojecimiento, rojez = redness

Irritación, erupción = rash

Moretones, magulladuras = bruising

Picazón, comezón = itching

Salpullido, ronchas = hives

Cambios en = changes in:

Apetito = apetite

Color = color

Peso = weight

Visión = vision

Dificultad para + verbo = difficulty + verb:

Caminar = walking

Dormir = sleeping

Dormirse = falling asleep

Respirar = breathing

Orinar = urinating

Tragar = swallowing

Dolor de ___ = ___ ache or sore ___:

Cabeza = headache

Estómago = stomach ache

Garganta = sore throat

Oídos = ear ache

Dolor al + verbo = pain with + verb:

Orinar = urinating

Mover = moving

Toser = coughing

Pérdida de… = loss of…

Apetito = appetite

Audición = hearing

Gusto = sense of tase

Olfato = sense of smell

After you’ve understood your patient’s chief complaint, here are a few phrases to explain next steps:

Yo necesito = I need:

  • examinarle parte del cuerpo = to examine body part
  • mirarle parte del cuerpo = to look at body part
  • escucharle parte del cuerpo = to listen to body part
  • tomarle signo vital = to take your vital sign

Ex. Yo necesito mirarle la garganta = I need to look at your throat.

Favor de… = Please… :

  • abrir la boca = open your mouth
  • acostarse = lie down
  • respirar profundo/normal = breathe deeply / normal
  • esperar aquí = wait here
  • quitarse la ropa = take off clothing

Ex. Favor de abrir la boca. = Please open your mouth

Usted necesita = You need:

  • tomar, usar tratamiento = to take, to use treatment
  • descansar = to rest
  • aislarse = to isolate
  • hacerse la prueba de ___ = get tested for ____

Ex. Usted necesita tomar un antibiótico. = You need to take an antibiotic.

Usted puede = you can:

  • tomar medicamento para síntoma = take medication for symptom
  • alternar entre tratamiento 1 y tratamiento 2 = alternate between treatment 1 and treatment 2

Ex. Usted puede alternar entre el acetaminofén y el ibuprofeno cada 2 horas. = You can alternate between acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 2 hours.

Yo voy a = I’m going to:

  • hablar con… = speak with…
  • pedir, ordenar (prueba, análisis, imagen) = order (test, analysis, image)
  • recetarle medicamento = prescribe medication to you

Ex. Yo voy a recetarle un antibiótico que se llama amoxicilina. = I’m going to prescribe you an antibiotic called amoxicillin.

Para conversar con tu compañero de conversación:

Paciente 1: Julia tiene 15 años, es muy activa y muy saludable. Hoy se siente muy cansada, tiene congestión y una tos nueva. 

Paciente 2: Pablo tiene 10 años. Tiene dolor de garganta, fiebre mucha congestión y escalofríos por 3 días. Por un día le duelen los dos oídos también. 

Paciente 3: Susana es una maestra de primaria y tiene 52 años. Está al día con sus vacunas (COVID y Gripe) pero padece diabetes tipo 2 y presión alta. Por un día ha tenido fiebre, una tos nueva y no tiene apetito. 

Rory Foster
Rory Foster
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Rory is passionate about the Spanish language, an expert instructor, and specifically energized by the practical use of language in industry & community settings.
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4 responses to “Discussing Cold and Flu Symptoms in Spanish

Nelson Lopez

What I love about your approach is that you make it easy for non-native speakers of Spanish to learn simple structures instead of getting into talking about complex grammar structures , like for example saying you need to learn the imperative mood. It is best what you do, periphrastic phrases, necesito examinar la garganta, Debe tomar este medicamento, etc. Useful, practical and not only achieves the objective but delivers the message. I keep recommending your site to my students here a Bellarmine University, KY, —-for those students interested in acquiring Spanish. Gracias

kathleen gaffney
kathleen gaffney

Excellent, as usual. Thank you very much.

Stephanie

Wonderful! Thank you so much!

Rory Foster
Rory Foster

You’re so welcome Stephanie!

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