139 Useful Spanish Medical Terms for Travelers and Medical Professionals Alike

Learning Spanish medical terms is a prescription for success.

Yes, that applies to you, even if you’re not a doctor.

Medical Spanish is useful for medical professionals, travelers, everyday folks and anyone who wants to be equipped to help people out in an emergency.

So, let’s get you started off right with 139 useful medical Spanish terms.


Why You Should Learn Medical Spanish

One reason why many people learn medical Spanish is to prepare to work in a medical field. Plenty of jobs require Spanish, including some great ones in the medical field.

Even if a job doesn’t require Spanish, there are still economic advantages to learning it. Learning proper medical terms is a good way to work towards better Spanish for business, particularly if you’re working in any healthcare or medical field. Learning medical Spanish will definitely open up your job options if you’re looking for work in the medical field.

Another reason to learn medical Spanish is to prepare you to assist a Spanish-speaker in a medical emergency. You’re just that good of a person.

Many EMTs don’t speak Spanish, and some hospitals and clinics lack sufficient Spanish-speaking staff. While they have professional translators they can call, there isn’t always time in an emergency. Being able to pitch in and help with your Spanish skills could literally save a life.

That being said, you could always use your knowledge to become one of those on-call translators, too!

We’re sure you’ll want to learn medical Spanish in order to communicate in a medical emergency abroad. It’s not an ideal situation, of course, but something could happen while you’re traveling. Hopefully you’ve followed the advice of NBC News and prepared ahead of time for this possibility, but learning some medical terms is still good backup.

Learning medical Spanish is also valuable in order to communicate an underlying medical condition while abroad. 

If you have any chronic conditions, it’s important to know the terms to describe your condition and associated symptoms. This way, if your condition flares up abroad, you can still get help. Putting together your own advanced Spanish vocabulary list will help you keep track of all the terms related to your condition. You might even keep it in your suitcase when you travel.

You should also learn some medical Spanish in case you need medication abroad. Try to bring your own medications whenever possible, and make sure you follow the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers’ guidelines so that hopefully you’ll have all the medications you need.

Still, you never know when you’ll have a terrible headache and need help finding the right over-the-counter medication to fix it. Being able to describe what’s happening is key to getting the assistance you need.

Luckily, there are lots of great resources like MedicalSpanish.com and PracticingSpanish.com to help prepare you with more useful medical terms. Medical students or others looking for the full treatment, so to speak, can check out the Medical Spanish Series at ed2go, a set of online courses that specifically teach you Spanish for use in medical situations.

If you want to practice these terms further, you can create flashcards on a program like FluentU. This app and website also lets you watch native speakers using these words in authentic Spanish videos with interactive subtitles, so you can learn them in context.

Ready to learn medical Spanish? Get started with this list!

139 Spanish Medical Terms All Learners Should Know

1. Dolor

Dolor means “pain.” It can refer to either physical or mental pain.

2. Enfermo/enferma

Enfermo/enferma often acts as an adjective meaning “sick.” However, it can also act as a noun meaning “sick person” or “patient.”

As is standard with Spanish-language adjectives and nouns, we use the masculine –ending when referring to boys and men and the feminine –ending when referring to girls and women.

3. Enfermedad

Enfermedad can refer to an illness, sickness or disease.

4. ¿Cuál es el problema?

What is the problem?

5. Me duele/duelen la/el/las/los…

Me duele/duelen la/el/las/los… is like saying “My ______ hurt/hurts.” For instance, me duele la cabeza means “my head hurts.” Me duelen los pies means “my feet hurt.”

6. Tengo dolor de…

Tengo dolor de… means “I have a pain/ache of…”

So, for instance, you might say tengo dolor de cabeza to mean the equivalent of “I have a headache.”

7. Estoy enfermo/enferma.

Estoy enfermo/enferma means “I am sick.” Following standard grammar rules, a man would use enfermo while a woman would use enferma. 

8. Siéntese aquí, por favor.

Sit here, please.

You’ll notice in this and the following phrases that, when speaking to patients, medical personnel will generally use the formal usted form of “you.”

9. ¿Tiene seguro médico?

Do you have medical/health insurance?

10. Necesito ver su…

I need to see your…

11. Tarjeta de seguro médico

Medical/health insurance card

12. ¿Cuál es su…?

What is your…?

13. Nombre

First name

14. Apellido

Last name

15. Nombre completo

Complete name (first and last)

16. Número de seguro social

Social security number

17. Número de teléfono

Telephone number

18. Dirección

When they ask for your dirección at check-in, it means “address.” However, the same word can also mean “direction,” “steering” (for a car) or “management.”

19. ¿En qué trabaja?

¿En qué trabaja? is the equivalent of “What field do you work in?”

20. ¿Quién es su contacto de emergencia?

Who is your emergency contact?

21. Signos vitales

Vital signs

22. Peso


23. Temperatura


24. Presión

Presión means “pressure,” but in medicine, it’s also used to mean “blood pressure.”

25. Pulso


26. Síntoma


27. Fiebre/calentura


28. Pérdida de peso

Weight loss

29. Mal apetito/poco apetito

Mal apetito means “bad appetite” while poco apetito means “poor appetite.”

30. Malestar en el estómago/trastorno estomacal

Both malestar en el estómago and trastorno estomacal are used to refer to an upset stomach. Malestar en el estómago literally means “discomfort in the stomach” while trastorno estomacal more literally means “upset stomach.”

31. Náusea


32. Vómito

Vómito can refer to the act of vomiting or the vomit itself.

33. Diarrea


34. Estreñimiento


35. Fatiga


36. Palpitaciones


37. Falta de aire

Shortness of breath

38. Mareo

Mareo can mean nausea, motion sickness or dizziness.

39. Debilidad


40. Insomnio


41. Hinchazón

Hinchazón can refer to swelling, bloating or a bump/lump.

42. Roncha

Roncha can refer to a bump, a lump or a hive.

43. Sarpullido/Salpullido 


44. Picazón/comezón/picor

Picazón, comezón and picor can all refer to an itch.

45. Presión baja

Low blood pressure

46. Presión alta

High blood pressure

47. Doctor/doctora/médico/médica


48. Enfermero/enfermera


49. Internista


50. Cirujano/cirujana


51. Ayudante


52. Técnico/técnica


53. Paciente

In a medical context, paciente usually means “patient,” as in a sick person. However, paciente can also mean the adjective “patient” which is like “tolerant.”

54. Hospital


55. Clínica


56. Farmacia


57. Consultorio

In a medical setting, consultorio can mean “doctor’s office” or “surgery.” In other contexts, it can refer to another office or a consultancy.

58. Sala de espera

Waiting room

59. Sala de emergencia

Emergency room

60. Sala de cuidados intensivos

Intensive care unit

61. Sala de maternidad

Maternity ward

62. Sala de operaciones

Operating room

63. Sala de recuperación

Recovery room

64. Laboratorio


65. Examen

Examen is very versatile. In a medical context, it can mean “test,” “exam” or “checkup.” In can also refer to “exams” in the academic sense.

66. Análisis de sangre

Análisis de sangre literally means “analysis of blood.” In English, we generally call this “blood test” or “blood work.”

67. Tomografía

Tomografía means “tomography” which includes various imaging techniques like CT scans and MRIs.

68. Biopsia


69. Radiografía

Radiografía means “radiography” which includes imaging techniques like x-rays.

70. Medicina


71. Medicamento


72. Prescripción/Receta


73. Pastilla

In a medical context, pastilla means “pill.” However, it can also mean “microchip,” “bar” (of soap) and a plethora of other things.

74. Píldora

Píldora generally means “pill.” However, it’s also used to refer to the birth control pill in particular.

75. Cápsula


76. Tableta

In a medical context, this usually means “tablet.” However, it can also mean “tablet” in a computing context. Additionally, it can refer to a bar of chocolate (which also has curative powers).

77. Ungüento


78. Crema

This can refer to a cream or lotion. However, it can also be used to reference another kind of cream—the edible dairy product.

79. Terapia


80. Cirugía


81. Espalda


82. Espina/Columna vertebral 


83. Cara


84. Pulmón


85. Músculo


86. Piel


87. Hueso

Hueso means “bone” in a medical context. Otherwise, it can also refer to the pit in a fruit.

88. Sangre


89. Arteria


90. Vena


91. Corazón


92. Cerebro


93. Lengua

In anatomy, lengua means “tongue.” Otherwise, it can also mean “language.”

94. Esófago


95. Estómago


96. Hígado


97. Vesícula biliar


98. Páncreas


99. Apéndice

Apéndice can refer to the appendix in your body or in a book/document.

100. Riñón


101. Vejiga

In anatomy, vejiga means “bladder.” However, vejiga can also mean “blister.”

102. Abdomen


103. Ingle


104. Intestino


105. Colon


106. Ojos


107. Oreja

Outer ear

108. Oído

Inner ear

109. Boca


110. Nariz


111. Mandíbula


112. Cuello


113. Diente


114. Brazo


115. Hombro


116. Muñeca

In anatomy, muñeca means “wrist.” However, it can also mean “doll.”

117. Mano

Mano generally means “hand,” but in some contexts it could also mean “pal,” “mitt” or several other things.

118. Dedo

Dedo means “finger.” However, dedo del pie means “toe.”

119. Pierna


120. Cadera


121. Rodilla


122. Tobillo


123. Pie


124. Diabetes


125. Hepatitis


126. Conmoción cerebral


127. Depresión


128. Enfermedad cardíaca

Heart disease

129. Ataque al corazón/Infarto/Paro cardíaco

Heart attack

130. Artritis


131. Cáncer


132. Apoplejía/Derrame cerebral


133. Asma


134. Alergia


135. Virus


136. Catarro/resfriado


137. Gripe


138. Faringitis estreptocócica

Strep throat

139. Intoxicación alimenticia

Food poisoning


These 139 useful medical terms and phrases will prepare you for any situation.

Use them in good health!

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