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Learn Medical Spanish – Talking through Signs and Symptoms in Spanish with your patients

Learn Medical Spanish – Talking through Signs and Symptoms in Spanish with your patients

This Medical Spanish lesson focuses on talking through the different signs and symptoms in Spanish your patient could have when they see you in the clinic.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • Two important Spanish verbs you need to learn in order to talk about signs and symptoms in Spanish.
  • Useful questions and common phrases you can use to assess your patient’s chief complaint.
  • Basic signs and symptoms in Spanish.
  • Other signs and symptoms your patient could be describing when talking to you.
  • Some transitional phrases to redirect the conversation.
  • Extra resources to learn about pain and different signs and symptoms depending on the hurting body part.

Here is the Medical Spanish lesson about Signs and Symptoms in Spanish I taught to the Facebook group:

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Download Signs and Symptoms in Spanish Notes TODAY

Two Important Verbs in Spanish / Dos verbos importantes en español

There are two important verbs you need to master in Spanish to be able to talk about síntomas:

1. Tener (e > ie) = To Have

Yo tengo Nosotros tenemos
Tú tienes Vosotros tenéis
Él / Ella / Usted tiene Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes tienen

2. Sentir (e > ie) = To Feel

Yo siento Nosotros sentimos
Tú sientes Vosotros sentís
Él / Ella / Usted siente Ellos / Ellas / Ustedes sienten

Note: The conjugation “vosotros” is used by people from Spain, so it is good for you to know about it but it’s not mandatory to learn how to use it since the majority of Latino patients are from Central and South America.

Some Examples / Unos ejemplos

Now you know these two verbs, it’s time to apply them! 🙂

Spanish English
¿Qué síntomas tiene hoy? What symptoms do you have today?
     Tengo dolor de cabeza, nauseas y vómito      I have a headache, nausea and vomiting
¿Siente dolor en otras partes del cuerpo también? Do you feel pain in other parts of the body as well?
     Sí, me duele la espalda      Yes, my back hurts
¿Tiene fiebre? Do you have fever?
     Creo que sí, porque siento calor y luego escalofríos      I think so, because I feel hot and then I have the chills
¿Por cuánto tiempo tiene estos síntomas? For how long do you have these symptoms?
     Por unos días, nomás Just for a few days

Useful Questions and Common Phrases / Preguntas útiles y frases comunes

Take a look at these questions an phrases, they could be useful when you talk to your Spanish-speaking patient and want to understand the problem:

Useful Questions in Spanish

If you are a beginner, it would be better to use only the Yes/No questions to avoid long explanations about symptoms in Spanish you’ll have trouble understanding.

Examples: It would be better to ask: “Do you feel ______________?” Yes / No rather than “What symptoms do you have?” I have _____________.

Leave the more complex questions for later, when you master a good amount of medical vocabulary 🙂

Spanish English
¿Qué le pasa hoy? What’s the matter today?
¿Cómo se siente?  How do you feel?
¿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 tiene __________? How long do you have __________?
¿Cuándo empezó __________? When did ____________ start?
Cuándo siente _____________? When do you feel _____________?

Common Phrases in Spanish / Frases comunes en español

Spanish English

Antes de

Después de After
De repente Suddenly
A veces  Sometimes
Siempre / Nunca Always / Never
Poco / Mucho A little bit / A lot
Me duele…  It hurts…
 Me pica it Itches / bites / stings
Me arde   It burns
Me cuesta It is difficult

Download Signs and Symptoms in Spanish Notes TODAY

Basic Signs and Symptoms in Spanish / Signos y síntomas básicos en español

In this section you will learn the most basic symptoms a patient would have depending on the part of the body:

Spanish English
Cabeza: Head:
     Congestión      Congestion
     Estornudo       Sneezing
     Goteo nasal      Runny nose
     Mareo      Dizziness
     Nariz tapada      Stuffy nose
Pecho: Chest:
     Falta de aire      Shortness of breath
     Flema (verdosa)      Phlegm (green)
     Palpitaciones       Palpitations
     Silbido      Wheezing
     Tos (seca, productiva)      Cough (dry cough, productive cough)
Cuerpo: Body:
     Fatiga      Fatigue
     Fiebre      Fever
     Nauseas       Nausea
     Vómito (con sangre)      Vomiting (with blood)
     Diarrea (con sangre)      Diarrhea (with blood)
     Estreñimiento      Constipation
     Gas (abdominal)      Gas (abdominal)
     Cólicos      Cramping
Piel: Skin:
     Irritación, erupción       Irritation, rash
     Salpullido, ronchas      Hives, rashes
     Moretones, magullas       Bruises
     Picazón, comezón      Itching / stinging
     Enrojecimiento, rojez      Redness

Other Signs and Symptoms / Unos signos y síntomas más…

Spanish English
Acedia, ácidos, Agruras, reflujo Acid, heartburn, reflux
Ansiedad /  Nervios Anxiety / Nerves
Boca seca, ojos secos, piel seca Dry mouth, dry eyes, dry skin
Cambios en: color, visión, etc Changes in: color, vision, etc.
Convulsiones Seizures
Desechos, flujo  Discharge, fluid
Dificultad para: respirar, orinar, tragar, dormir Difficulty: breathing, urinating, swallowing, sleeping
Dolor al: orinar, mover, toser Pain with urination, movement, while you cough
Hinchazón Swelling
Hormigueo Tingling
Inflamación Inflammation
Inquietud  Restlessness
Lesión Lesion / Wound / Injury
Malestar general General malaise
Modorra Drowsiness
Pérdida de: Loss of:
     Apetito      Appetite
     Audición      Hearing
     Conocimiento      Consciousness
     Sensación      Sensation
Resfrío / Resfriado Cold / Flu
Sangre (sangrado) de… Blood (A bleed) of …
Sudores  Sweating
Sueños Sleepiness
Temblores Tremors

Learn More About Pain / Aprenda más sobre el dolor

In you want more specific vocabulary about certain types of pain and symptoms, here are some good resources for you:

All of them include free lesson notes for you to download and practice!

Some Transitional Phrases / Unas frases de transición

After getting a good idea of your patient’s symptoms, you can start using some transitional phrases to talk about diagnoses or next steps to follow:

Spanish English
Necesito… (examinarle, mirarle __________, escucharle __________) I need to … (examine _______ , look at your __________, listen to your __________)
Favor de… (acostarte, respirar profundo / normal, esperar aquí, quitarse la ropa) Please… (lie down, breathe deeply / normally, wait here, take off your clothes)
Usted necesita… (tomar __________, descansar, usar __________) You need to… (take __________, rest, use __________)
Voy a… (hablar con _________, pedir __________, recetarle ________)  I’m going to… (speak to __________, order ____________, prescribe _________)

Now is your turn! ¡Ahora te toca a ti! You can study this medical signs and symptoms vocabulary here with the flashcards I’ve created for you:

I packaged all of this into easily downloadable .pdf notes– Get your copy for free today!

Download Signs and Symptoms in Spanish Notes TODAY

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

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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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