Business English Vocabulary: Medicine

In an extremely specialized industry such as Medicine, hospitals and care centers are always happy to hire on skilled practitioners. If you are looking to relocate to an English-speaking country, this is a good profession to have, as many countries are eager to employ more doctors, nurses, and carers. Before you move, it is helpful to know some key phrases that will be essential on a day-to-day basis.

Sick in a foreign country
It helps the know the terms for a sickness and medicine the medicine that cures it when moving to an English-speaking country.


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Common Medical Problems

Allergy/Allergic Reaction

An allergy is when your immune system reacts negatively because your body is oversensitive to an allergen. Common allergens include peanuts, pollen and pet hair. Allergic reactions can range from a mild runny nose or rash, to life-threatening fits.


Anemia, or anaemia in the UK, is a condition where the body is not creating enough red blood cells. Patients usually feel tired despite having had plenty of sleep.


The common cold can be contracted from another person who is infected by a virus. Generally, your nose and throat become irritated and make a lot of mucus. With so much of your body’s energy focused on fighting the virus, you can be left feeling very tired. Unlike the adjective ‘cold,’ this sort of cold will generally leave you feeling hot and achey.


Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that can be fatal if they spread to other parts of the body. There are many different types of cancer and related treatment options, and it is often possible to cure the patient if the cancer is found in its early stages.

Chicken Pox

One of the most common infectious diseases caught by children, chicken pox is a viral illness that causes itchy red rashes all over the skin. It is usually very mild in children, but can be severe if contracted as an adult.


Dementia is a disease of the brain often associated with old age. Patients may suffer from severe memory loss, confusion, mood swings, and the inability to cope with everyday tasks.


A fever is a higher than normal body temperature generally caused by infection and is usually a symptom of a larger condition.


Short for influenza, the flu is more severe than the common cold, usually consisting of a fever, headache, and sore muscles. It is extremely contagious and appears most frequently in the winter and early springtime. Sometimes, a flu can cause vomiting and an upset stomach.

Heart Attack

A Heart Attack is a severe emergency, where the patient’s heart stops pumping blood around the body. It can be caused when the blood vessels leading to the heart are restricted.

communicating with doctors in english
Communicating with your patients in their native language shows you care.


Types of Treatment


Antibiotics are tablets, or pills, given to patients to help the body kill off infections


A biopsy is when a small amount of tissue is removed from the body in order to conduct certain tests. This is often performed if a patient is suspected of having cancer or another potentially serious illness. A mild anesthetic is given beforehand, and the procedure is usually painless.


CPR, short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a lifesaving technique used to restore a person’s breathing and encourage blood circulation around the body. It is a very valuable first aid tool and can be taught to anyone, not only medical professionals.


Immunization consists of a number of injections given at certain points in a child’s life to protect against highly contagious or dangerous illnesses. If you are visiting a foreign country, you may need to be immunized against other diseases not considered a threat in your homeland.


During surgery, doctors usually have to make a cut in the body in order to gain access to the organ they need to treat. This is known as an incision.


A prescription is a note from a doctor authorizing you to purchase certain medicines from a pharmacist. The prescription aims to completely heal or alleviate illness. An abbreviation for prescription is Rx, which comes from the Latin word for “recipe”, meaning “take.”

Physical Therapy

Also known as physiotherapy in the UK, physical therapy is the treatment of injury or disease by physical methods, such as exercise, message, and heat treatment. This is often done after a surgery or severe accident.

visiting a hospital abroad
Communicate better with your coworkers at the hospital when you know the English terms.


Other Common Medical Phrases

Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading is a very common procedure used to ensure the patient’s blood is pumping around the body at a good rate. If it is too fast, it can mean the patient is at risk of heart attack. Too low indicates anemia.


Crutches are tools used by those with leg injuries to help them get around. They aim to take the weight off the damaged leg while still allowing movement of the healthy leg.


After testing the patient for certain illnesses, the doctor will tell the patient what the problem is and how they can treat it. This is the diagnosis.


The ICU, or Intensive Care Unit, is a specialized department of a hospital that provides concentrated medical treatment for severe conditions. In the case of an emergency, you would visit an Emergency room in the US or an A&E (Accident and Emergency) in the UK.

Medicine is a very wide-ranging subject with an extensive amount of jargon, but this list should get you off to a great start! If you are serious about pursuing a medical career, why not consider studying at one of our English language schools?

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