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Symptoms and Conditions

Symptoms and Conditions

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Discuss symptoms and medical conditions.

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what's covered
In this lesson, you will learn how to ask about various symptoms and conditions in Spanish. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
  1. Los Síntomas y Las Condiciones (Symptoms and Conditions)
    1. Using Ser and Estar
    2. Using Tener
  2. Más Preguntas para el Paciente (Follow-Up Questions)

before you start
Watch the following video to get a preview of the vocabulary you will be learning in this lesson. You will have a chance to practice this material later, once you have progressed through the lesson.

1. Los Síntomas y Las Condiciones (Symptoms and Conditions)

It’s vital that you be able to understand the symptoms that a patient has. This lesson can be used as a reference when Spanish-speaking patients list their symptoms for you. You can also use it to determine what to ask of patients.

If a patient gives you information, they will use the first person ("yo") form of the verb. If you ask a patient a question about themselves (or even about someone else), you will use the third person ("usted," "él," and "ella") form of the verb.

1a. Using Ser and Estar

Use estar when discussing the following conditions:

English Spanish Pronunciation
I am… Yo estoy… yo ace-toy
Are you…? ¿Está usted…? ace-tah oo-staid
Is he/she…? ¿Está él / ella…? ace-tah ale / ay-yah…
…pregnant …embarazada …aim-bare-ah-sah-dah
…breast-feeding …dándole de pecho don-doe-lay day pay-choh
…contagious …contagioso/a …cone-tah-he-oh-so / sah
…dizzy …mareado/a …ma-ray-ah-doe / dah

Note that estar is also used with intoxicado/a. You would hear, "Estoy intoxicado/a" directly from a patient or "Está intoxicado/a" if a caregiver is speaking about the patient.

This deserves special mention because it does not mean "intoxicated/drunk." The Spanish words for intoxicated/drunk are borracho/a, ebrio/a, and embriagado/a. "Intoxicado" means "poisoned." The noun forms for "poisoning" are la intoxicación and el envenenamiento.

Use ser when discussing the following condition:

English Spanish Pronunciation
I am hemophilic. Yo soy hemofílico/a. yo soy aim-oh-fee-lee-koh / kah
Are you hemophilic? ¿Es usted hemofílico/a? ace oo-staid aim-oh-fee-lee-koh / kah
Is he/she hemophilic? ¿Es él / ella hemofílico/a? ace ale / ay-yah aim-oh-fee-lee-koh / kah

1b. Using Tener

For the rest of the conditions/symptoms that you will need to know, you can use the verb tener (to have). You can simply ask, ¿Tiene usted/él/ella ...? and listen for Yo tengo...

Here’s a sample dialogue to illustrate the use of the extremely important verb tener:

Nurse: Me llamo Stephanie. Voy a ser su enfermera. ¿Cuál es la razón de su visita? (My name is Stephanie. I’m going to be your nurse. What is the reason for your visit?)
Patient: Estoy enfermo. (I'm sick.)
Nurse: ¿Cuáles son sus síntomas? (What are your symptoms?)
Patient: Tengo dolor del estómago. (I have a stomachache.)
Nurse: ¿Tiene usted diarrea? (Do you have diarrhea?)
Patient: No. Tengo vómitos. (No. I have vomiting)
Nurse: ¿Tiene usted dolor de cabeza? (Do you have a headache?)
Patient: No. (No.)
Nurse: ¿Tiene usted fiebre? (Do you have a fever?)
Patient: No sé. (I don't know.)
Nurse: Tengo que tomarle la temperatura. (I have to take your temperature.)
Patient: Okay. (Okay.)

You will ask the patient ¿Tiene usted...? and then fill in the blank with any of the symptoms or conditions listed below.

Alternately, if the person you are asking is not the patient, you will ask ¿Tiene ella...? or ¿Tiene él...? and again fill in the blank with any of the symptoms or conditions in the chart that follows. The chart is organized by symptom (similar symptoms and conditions are grouped together).

If the answer/information comes directly from the patient, listen for (Yo) tengo.... If it comes from someone else, listen for Ella tiene... or Él tiene...

  • Yo tengo... (I have...)
  • Él tiene... (He has...)
  • Ella tiene... (She has...)
  • ¿Tiene él...? (Does he have...?)
  • ¿Tiene ella...? (Does she have...?)
  • ¿Tiene usted...? (Do you have...?)

English Spanish Pronunciation
hunger (hungry) hambre ahm-bray
thirst (thirsty) sed said
sleepy sueño s'wayne-yo
cold (temperature) frío free-oh
hot calor kah-lore
a fever fiebre fee-ay-bray
difficulty breathing dificultad en respirar dee-fee-cool-todd ain race-pee-rar
difficulty walking dificultad en caminar dee-fee-cool-todd ain kah-me-nar
difficulty swallowing dificultad en tragar dee-fee-cool-todd ain trah-gar
difficulty seeing dificultad en ver dee-fee-cool-todd ain bare
difficulty sleeping dificultad en dormir dee-fee-cool-todd ain door-meer
fatigue la fatiga la fah-tee-gah
drowsiness la somnolencia la soam-no-lane-see-ah
pain of the/ache in the (body part) dolor de (body part) doe-lore day (body part)
headache dolor de cabeza doe-lore day kah-bay-sah
stomach ache dolor de estómago doe-lore day ace-toe-mah-go
sore throat dolor de garganta doe-lore day gar-gahn-tah
migraine una migraña me-grahn-yah
a cramp un calambre oon kah-lahm-bray
menstrual cramps dolor menstrual doe-lore main-strew-all
nausea la náusea la now-see-ah
diarrhea la diarrea la dee-ah-ray-ah
an upset stomach el revuelto del estómago
trastorno estomacal
ale ray-b'well-toe dale ace-toe-mah-go

ale trass-tore-no ace-toe-mah-call
heartburn la acidez del estómago la ah-see-dace dale ace-toe-mah-go
indigestion la indigestión la een-dee-hace-tee-own
vomiting spells los vómitos lohs bow-me-tohs
constipation el estreñimiento ale ay-strain-yee-me-ain-toe
lactose intolerance la intolerancia a la lactosa la een-toe-lay-rahn-see-ah ah la lack-toe-sah
bronchitis la bronquitis la broan-key-tiece
tonsillitis la amigdalitis la ah-meeg-dah-lee-tiece
flu la influenza/la gripe la een-flu-ain-sah / la gree-pay
a common cold un resfriado / un catarro oon race-free-ah-doe / oon kah-tah-row
allergy symptoms los síntomas de alergias lohs seen-toe-mahs day ah-lair-he-ahs
a cough una tos oo-nah tohs
congestion la congestión la cone-hay-stee-own
a runny nose la mocosidad / la moquera la moh-koh-see-dahd / la moh-kay-rah
watery eyes el líquido en los ojos ale lee-key-doe ain lohs oh-hohs
dry mouth una boca seca oo-nah bow-kah say-kah
coldsores las úlceras en los labios lahs ool-say-rahs ain lohs la-bee-ohs
mouth ulcers/canker sores las úlceras en la boca lahs ool-say-rahs ain la bow-kah
a virus un virus oon bee-roose
a bacteria una bacteria oo-nah bahk-tay-ree-ah
a urinary tract infection una infección del tracto urinario oo-nah een-fake-see-own dale trahk-toe oo-ree-nah-ree-oh
frequent urination la orinación frecuente la oh-ree-nah-see-own fray-k'wayne-tay
ear infection una infección del oído oo-nah een-fake-see-own dale oh-ee-doe
a yeast infection los hongos lohs own-gohs
dizziness/light-headedness el mareo ale ma-ray-oh
fainting spells los desmayos lohs dace-my-ohs
weakness la debilidad la day-bee-lee-dahd
a sleep disorder un trastorno del sueño oon trahs-tore-no dale s'wayne-yo
weight loss una pérdida de peso oo-nah pair-dee-dah day pay-so
weight gain un aumento de peso oon ow-main-toe day pay-so
poor appetite poco apetito po-koh ah-pay-tee-toe
a cut una cortada oo-nah core-tah-dah
a wound una herida oo-nah air-ee-dah
swelling/inflammation una inflamación oo-nah een-flah-ma-see-own
a burn una quemadura oo-nah kay-ma-doo-rah
sunburn una quemadura de sol oo-nah kay-ma-doo-rah day sole
a burning during urination una quemadura al orinar oo-nah kay-ma-doo-rah all oh-ree-nar
a bite/sting una picadura oo-nah pee-kah-doo-rah
an itch una picazón oo-nah pee-kah-soan
poison ivy la hiedra venenosa la yay-drah bay-nay-no-sah
jock itch la tiña inguinal la teen-ya een-guee-nall
athlete’s foot el pie de atleta ale pee-ay day at-lay-tah
a callus un callo oon kah-yo
a blister una ampolla oo-nah ahm-poe-yah
acne el acne ale ahk-nay
a rash una erupción oo-nah ay-roop-see-own
chicken pox la varicela la ba-ree-say-la
asthma la asma la ahs-ma
angina la angina la ahn-he-nah
glaucoma el glaucoma ale gla-ow-koe-ma
cataract la catarata la kah-tah-rah-tah
blurred vision la visión nublada la bee-see-own noo-blah-dah
epilepsy la epilepsia la ay-pee-lape-see-ah
ulcers las úlceras lahs ool-say-rahs
a cyst una quiste oo-nah key-stay
cancer el cáncer ale kahn-sair
AIDS la SIDA (syndrome d'immuno déficience acquise) la see-dah
arthritis la artritis la are-tree-tiece
dysentery la disentería la dee-sane-tay-ree-ah
ADHD el trastorno de hiperactividad y un déficit de atención ale trass-tore-no day ee-pair-ahk-tee-bee-dod ee oon day-fee-seat day ah-tain-see-own
hepatitis la hepatitis la ay-pa-tee-tiece
anemia la anemia la ah-nay-me-ah
meningitis la meningitis la may-nane-he-tiece
whooping cough una tos ferina oo-nah tohs fay-ree-nah
diabetes las diabetes lahs dee-ah-bay-tace
a blood clot un coágulo oon koh-ah-goo-low
high cholesterol un nivel alto de colesterol oon nee-bail all-toe day koh-lace-tay-role
high blood pressure la hipertensión / la alta presión arterial la ee-pair-tain-see-own / la all-tah pray-see-own are-tay-ree-all
low blood pressure la hipotensión / la baja presión arterial la ee-po-tain-see-own / la ba-ha pray-see-own are-tay-ree-all
a heart condition una condición del corazón oo-nah cone-dee-see-own dale koh-rah-soan
a pacemaker un marcapaso oon marr-kah-pah-so
a thyroid condition una condición del tiroideo oo-nah cone-dee-see-own dale tee-roy-day-oh
a prostate condition una condición de la próstata oo-nah cone-dee-see-own day la pro-stah-tah
a respiratory condition una condición respiratoria oo-nah cone-dee-see-own race-pee-rah-toe-ree-ah
kidney disease la enfermedad del riñon la ain-fair-may-dod dale reen-yoan
lung disease la enfermedad de los pulmones la ain-fair-may-dod day lohs pool-moan-ace
pneumonia la pulmonía la pool-mo-nee-ah
Alzheimer’s disease la enfermedad de Alzheimer la ain-fair-may-dod day all-sigh-mare
heart disease la enfermedad del corazón la ain-fair-may-dod dale koh-rah-soan
STD la enfermedad de transmisión sexual la ain-fair-may-dod day trahns-me-see-own sake-sue-all
venereal disease la enfermedad venérea la ain-fair-may-dod bay-nay-ray-ah
liver disease la enfermedad del hígado la ain-fair-may-dod dale ee-gah-doe

Note that dolor de... means a pain/ache in/of the.... So, "Tengo dolor de cabeza" means "I have a headache/I have a pain in my head."

But sometimes you will hear this instead: "Me duele la cabeza," which literally means "My head hurts me." They both convey the same meaning. If patients are talking about more than one body part, they will say, "Me duelen": "Me duelen las rodias" means "My knees hurt me." Just be aware that this is how some patients will phrase this, and that "Tengo dolor de..." and "Me duele..." essentially mean the same thing.

2. Más Preguntas para el Paciente (Follow-Up Questions)

The chart below provides some follow-up questions and phrases for you to use once you determine what a patient's symptoms are.

English Spanish Pronunciation
For how long? ¿Hace cuánto tiempo? ah-say k'wann-toe tee-aim-poe
Is this the first time? ¿Es la primera vez? ace la pre-may-rah base
When was the last time? ¿Cuándo fue la última vez? k'wann-doe f'way la ool-tee-ma-base
You should see your doctor. Debe ver a su doctor/a. day-bay bare ah sue doke-tore/ah
You should go to the hospital. Debe ir al hospital. day-bay ear all ose-pee-tall
Call 911! ¡Llame nueve, uno, uno! ya-may noo-ay-bay oo-no oo-no
You should take... (name of medicine). Debe tomar... (name of medicine) day-bay toe-mar... (name of medicine)
Have you taken ____? ¿Ha tomado ____? ah toe-mah-doe ____

In this lesson, you learned how to discuss different symptoms and conditions with patients in Spanish. There are a few conditions that you will need to use ser or estar to discuss, but you will be able to use tener in most cases. You also learned some follow up questions and statements related to symptoms and conditions that you can use if needed. The vocabulary taught in this lesson is important because it will help you understand patients' medical issues and provide recommendations.

¡Buena suerte!


If you are struggling with a concept or terminology in the course, you may contact for assistance.

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Source: This content has been adapted from "Spanish for Nurses" by Stephanie Langston.