French Health Expressions
Learning to communicate with others concerning our health is indispensable in any language. Everyone ought to have knowledge of basic medical terminology on the tip of his tongue, to be able to communicate effectively with doctors, nurses, pharmacies and hospitals. This is of key importance if you intend to travel to a country where the native language is not your own.
29 October 2012
French Health Expressions
Emergencies occur at any time. You can suddenly fall ill, or you can be the victim of an accident. It is necessary for you to be able to describe your ailment, and also to understand what a stranger or a nurse or doctor may be saying to you. Medical terminology covers a wide range of vocabulary. The aim of this article is to share some of the basic medical terms in French.
The vocabulary covers illnesses, disabilities and medical care which are further broken down. There are many important terms which are cognates with English and should not pose a problem. Included are other terms which may not be easily guessed. It is a good idea to own a copy of a phrase book of French medical phrases, or one which incorporates at least the basic ones needed.
Illnesses and medical conditions (Les maladies et les conditions médicales)
The following are some general medical terms which are more or less used on an everyday basis. To express the verb ‘to bleed’, the French uses the verb “saigner“. If you want to talk about someone suffocating, you would use the verb “s’asphyxier“. This is a reflexive verb. So too is “se faire mal” to hurt oneself.” Examples of sentences are as follows:
Il/Elle s’asphyxie – He/she is suffocating.
Cela me fait mal – It hurts/is hurting.
To let someone know you are ill, say “Je suis malade.” If you have an injury or a wound, the word to use is “une blessure.” If you are in pain, the French word for pain is “la douleur.” To have a relapse in French, is “faire une rechute.” A sprain is “une foulure” or “une entorse.” A swelling is “un enflement“.
Colds and gastrointestinal ailments – Rhumes et souffrances gastrointestinales
For colic, the French say “la colique“. The ‘flu is referred to as “la grippe.”
“Food poisoning” is “l’intoxication alimentaire.” An upset stomach is ‘le mal de ventre.”
AIDS is referred to as ” le SIDA“. If a man is HIV positive, he is “seropositif“, while a woman is “seropositive“.
Health specialists and facilities – Les specialistes et les services de la santé
You would need to know the names of some health specialists and health facilities.
A first-aid worker is “un/une secouriste.” A dental surgeon is ‘un/une chirurgien(ne) dentaire.” The intensive care unit is known as “les services des soins intensifs.” If a nurse or doctor is on call, they are “de garde“. An outpatients’ clinic is “une clinique ambulatoire.”