chinese medical terms

50+ Chinese Medical Terms for Surviving Your Doctor’s Visit

Knowing medical terms in Chinese could be just as lifesaving as being able to ask “where’s the bathroom?”

Whether you find yourself in the doctor’s office for a routine checkup or taking an unplanned trip to the hospital, these words will be essential for understanding your caregivers and describing your ailments.

In this post, you’ll learn over 50 Chinese medical terms for booking appointments, describing symptoms and much more.


Booking Your Appointment in Chinese

Here are a few terms you’ll need when calling in for an appointment:

预约yù yuēappointment
手机号码shǒu jī hào mǎcellphone number
电话号码diàn huà hào mǎtelephone number, landline
地址dì zhǐaddress
电子邮件地址diàn zǐ yóu jiàn dì zhǐemail address
出生日期chū shēng rì qídate of birth
后天hòu tiānday after tomorrow
下周五xià zhōu wǔnext Friday
明天早上míng tiān zǎo shangtomorrow morning

Knowing how to have a conversation on the phone is necessary when living in China.

While hospitals accept walk-ins, clinics and outpatient departments require appointments scheduled ahead of time via telephone.

Before making that call, you should probably brush up on things like telling time in Chinese and the days of the week.

You can also prep by watching authentic videos on the topic on a program like FluentU. This program lets you search for a specific word or browse videos by topic, format and skill level. It also lets you create flashcards from words, which you can study through personalized quizzes.

Now, here are a few examples of what you might say while making the appointment over the phone or at the receptionist’s desk:

(wǒ yào yù yuē kàn yī shēng.)
I want to make an appointment to see the doctor.

(yī shēng xià zhōu liù shàng wǔ shí diǎn yǒu shí jiān ma?)
Is the doctor available next Saturday at 10 a.m.?

(wǒ de shǒu jī hào mǎ shì yī qī qī èr líng èr líng èr líng qī qī jiǔ.)
My cellphone number is 17720202079.

(wǒ de chū shēng rì qí shì yī jiǔ jiǔ líng nián jiǔ yuè èr shí èr rì.)
My date of birth is September 22nd, 1990.

Other than your phone number, receptionists probably won’t ask for contact details until you arrive for your appointment.

Remember to bring your passport. If you’re studying abroad or working in China, it would be a good idea to bring a copy of your Registration of Temporary Residence in case you haven’t memorized your address yet.

Basic Medical Terms in Chinese

To tell someone you’re sick, say “我病了” (wǒ bìng le). Simple enough, right?

Let’s move on to hospital vocabulary.

You might have learned some of these already in a hospital-themed lesson, and they’re extremely helpful when communicating with locals for the nearest hospital or looking at street and store signs when searching for the clinic or pharmacy.

医院yī yuànhospital
急救室jí jiù shìemergency room
门诊部mén zhěn bùclinic; outpatient department
医生yī shēngdoctor
护士hù shìnurse
病人bìng rénpatient
yàodrugs, medicine
药方yào fāngprescription
药店yào diànpharmacy
药剂师yào jì shīpharmacist
抗生素kàng shēng sùantibiotic
去痛药qù tòng yàopainkiller
西药xī yàoWestern medicine
中药zhōng yàotraditional Chinese medicine

Talking About Your Symptoms in Chinese

You’ve finally made it to your appointment and are face-to-face with your doctor. It’s time to explain why you’re here.

Again, it’s not always enough to say, “it hurts.” In addition to knowing body parts in Chinese, you’ll also need to describe your sickness or injury.

Some terms in this list double up as nouns/adjectives and verbs.

So, to say: “I have x symptom,” say (wǒ) + any of the items below.

发烧fā shāoto have a fever/high temperature
受伤shòu shāngto be injured
感冒gǎn màoto have a cold
头痛tóu tòngto have a headache
头晕tóu yūnto be dizzy
咳嗽ké sòuto have a cough
牙疼yá téngto have a toothache
呕吐ǒu tùto vomit
流感liú gǎnflu
喉咙痛hóu lóng tòngsore throat
发冷fā lěngchill (the chills)
便秘biàn mìconstipation, to be constipated
腹泻fù xièdiarrhea
皮疹pí zhěnrash, measles
过敏症guò mǐn zhèngallergy
胃灼热wèi zhuó rèheartburn
发痒fā yǎngitchy
发炎fā yáninflamed
哮喘病xiāo chuǎn bìngasthma
打断dǎ duànfracture, to break a bone
过敏反应guò mǐn fǎn yìngallergic reaction

Here are a couple of sentence examples so you can see how to format your own sentences:

我头痛。(wǒ tóu tòng.) — I have a headache.

我发冷。(wǒ fā lěng.) — I have the chills.

There are a few irregularities worth mentioning. Some terms can’t be used interchangeably as nouns/adjectives, or seem redundant when translated literally.

To make your life easier, here are a few phrases you can memorize:

我肚子疼。 (wǒ dù zi téng.) — I have a stomach ache.

我鼻子流鼻涕。 (wǒ bí zǐ liú bí tì.) — I have a runny nose.

我鼻子堵了。 (wǒ bí zi dǔ le.) — My nose is blocked/I have a stuffy nose.

Advanced Chinese Medical Terms

After discussing your symptoms, your doctor will take your vitals and possibly order tests if needed.

Even if you don’t know how to use the terminology below in a sentence, knowing the vocab will at least help you figure out what the doctor’s saying and how to read the signs around the hospital in case you need to go to different departments.

X光X guāngX-ray
超声chāo shēngultrasound
磁共振成像cí gòng zhèn chéng xiàngMagnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
电脑断层扫描diàn nǎo duàn céng sǎo miáoComputerized Tomography (CT) scan
验血yàn xuěblood test
视力检查shì lì jiǎn chávision/eye test
心率xīn lǜheart rate
血压xuě yāblood pressure
病理bìng lǐpathology
儿科ér kēpediatrics
骨科gǔ kēorthopedics
内科nèi kēinternal medicine
妇产科fù chǎn kēObstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN)
临床外科lín chuáng wài kēclinical surgery
皮肤科pí fū kēdermatology

Why You Should Know Chinese Medical Terms

I’m comfortable talking to Chinese people daily, so I’ve had to accompany my fellow foreign friends to the hospital. It helps to have someone who can communicate your issues effectively.

But that’s not to say I haven’t had my own medical misadventures.

A while back, I had this strange bump on my right eyelid. Being a contact lens wearer, I’ve had my fair share of eye problems, but this bump was entirely new to me.

From calling in for an appointment to giving my contact details and taking my eye test, I didn’t fumble when speaking to my optometrist in Chinese.

It wasn’t until we discussed my symptoms that there was a slight hiccup: I had no idea how to say “itchy.”

Overall, things went smoothly, and I learned something new from the experience: I ended up getting the right treatment and learning that the word for “itchy” in Chinese is 发痒. But things would have been so much easier if I had just told the doctors about my symptoms initially.

Don’t be like me: learn these words before going to the doctor for a smoother visit.


You can learn many different phrases to survive day-to-day life in China, but because of the infrequency of hospital and doctor visits, we often find ourselves clueless when we need a checkup.

But if you know the vocabulary and general sentence structures for common Chinese medical terms, hospital visits don’t have to be as intimidating as they seem.

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