At the ARZT (Doctor) in GERMAN: What to say!

At the ARZT (Doctor) in GERMAN: What to say!

In important situations, like a doctor’s visit, not being able to communicate clearly can be a serious handicap.

Ich bin Spring German Lehrerin Brunhild. Heute sprechen wir über Arztbesuche! (Today, we’ll take about visiting the doctor!

So let’s go through some practical tips and applicable phrases, to smoothen the process step by step, from the initial symptoms to the phone call, to the actual appointment.

1. Die Symptome (the symptoms)

If you get ill in Germany, and the thought of going to the doctor and explaining everything in German makes you even more sick, you could be developing symptoms like:

  • Übelkeit (nausea)
  • Müdigkeit (tiredness)
  • Schlappheit (lethargy)

All of these symptoms have the feminine article “die”, because they end on “-keit” and “-heit”, which are feminine endings. Click this video if you want to learn more about word genders and when to use which articles. //

MIMMI
Huch! Du siehst gar nicht gut aus. Wo drückt denn der Schuh?
(Oh my! You don’t look well at all. Where does the shoe pinch?)

SAGA
Ich bin so müde. Und übel ist mir auch.
(I am so tired. And I am nauseous, too.)

MIMMI
Die Übelkeit kommt daher, das du heute noch nichts gegessen hast.
(The nausea comes from you not having eaten anything today!)

Und die Müdigkeit kommt daher, dass du nicht raus an die frische Luft gehst. Hier, iss das! Vitamin C!
(And the tiredness comes from you not going outside to catch some fresh air! Here, eat this! Vitamin C!)

CHUNK ALERT!

Du siehst gar nicht gut aus (You don’t look well at all) literally means “You don’t look well at all.” So it could be that someone’s looking very tired, or stressed out, or very sad, and we want to invite them to open up about what’s going on. It’s a way of showing that we are worried. But of course, it could also be taken the wrong way, because telling someone that they don’t look good is… you might wanna be careful with this one.

For more native German sounding phrases, make sure to download our free essential German Chunking kit, to which the link in the description.

Your symptoms might stay until you are treated, so being able to describe them will come in handy in every part of the process.

A symptom for something not being right may be that you have

  • ein Fieber (a fever). We all know this one. Then there is
  • Appetitlosigkeit (loss of appetite), which can lead to
  • Gewichtsverlust (weight loss). Another common one is that you have pain somewhere
  • Schmerzen (pain).

Of course, it is good if you can specify where exactly die Schmerzen (the pain) are. You can do that by putting the concerned body part in front of “Schmerzen”. So you can say: Ich habe… (I have…)

  • Kopfschmerzen (a headache), which could be the case when you have Migräne (migraine).
  • Halsschmerzen (throat pain), which could be the case when you have eine Mandelentzündung (tonsilitis).
  • Bauchschmerzen (stomach ache), which could be the case when you have Blähungen (flatulence).
  • Unterleibsschmerzen (lower abdominal pain), which could be the case when have eine Blasenentzündung (a bladder infection).

INES
Hast du Bauchschmerzen?
(Do you have stomach ache?)

SAGA
Es zieht so im Unterleib. Ich fühle mich, als müsste ich die ganze Zeit pinkeln.
(My abdomen is cramping. I feel as if I have to pee all the time.)

INES
Oh je! Das hört sich nach einer Blasenentzündung an!
(Oh dear. That sounds like a bladder infection)

SAGA
Eine was?
(A what?)

INES
Eine Blasenentzündung.
(A bladder infection.)

SAGA
Oh Gott!
(Oh god!)

INES
Du musst zum Arzt gehen. Der verschreibt dir Antibiotika.
(You gotta go to the doctor. He’ll prescribe you antibiotics).

Eine Blasenentzündung (a bladder infection) is a serious bakterielle Infektion (bacterial infection), which needs to be treated with Antibiotika (antibiotics). To get that kind of Behandlung (treatment), you need ein Rezept vom Arzt (a doctor’s prescription). So you will have to make a doctor’s appointment.

2. Einen Termin vereinbaren (To make an appointment)

The nice thing about Germany is, that we have different medical practices you can call when it’s urgent. Chances are, you will always get someone on the phone sooner or later. If you need an appointment quickly, you can say one of the following things:

  • Ich habe akute Beschwerden. (I have acute symptoms.)
  • Ich habe starke Schmerzen. (I have severe pain.)
  • Ich möchte einen Termin vereinbaren. (I want to make an appointment.)
  • Ich muss dringend behandelt werden. (I need to be treated immediately.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Hausarztpraxis Dr. Steiner…
(General practitioner’s office Dr. Steiner…)

SAGA
Guten Tag. Lindén mein Name. Ich habe starke Schmerzen im Unterleib.
(Good afternoon. My name is Lindén. I have strong abdominal pain.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Möchten Sie einen Termin vereinbaren?
(Would you like to make an appointment?)

SAGA
Ja, bitte.
(Yes, please.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Okay. Handelt es sich um akute Beschwerden, die dringend behandelt werden müssen?
(Okay. Is it about acute symptoms, that need to be treated immediately?)

SAGA
Ich glaube schon.
(I think so.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Haben Sie Schmerzen beim Wasserlassen?
(Do you have pain when urinating?)

SAGA
Exakt.
(Exactly.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Ist ihr Urin trüb?
(Is your urine murky?)

SAGA
Exakt.
(Exactly.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Ja, das hört sich nach einer Blasenentzündung an. Wir machen einen Termin für eine Urinprobe.
(Yes, that sounds like a bladder infection. Let’s make an appointment for a urine sample.)

SAGA
Vielen lieben Dank!
(Thank you very much!)

FRAU MÜLLER
Kommen Sie morgen zwischen 8 und 12 einfach in die Praxis. Bis dahin versuchen Sie viel zu trinken, sich warmzuhalten und sich auszuruhen.
(Come to our medical office tomorrow between 8 and 12 o clock. Until then, try drinking a lot, keeping warm and getting some rest.)

SAGA
Okay.
(Okay.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Wenn es gar nicht geht, versuchen Sie es mit einem Schmerzmittel wie Paracetamol oder Ibuprofen.
(If it doesn’t work at all, try a pain reliever like paracetamol or ibuprofen.)

SAGA
Danke schön.
(Thank you.)

FRAU MÜLLER
Sehr gerne. Bis morgen dann. Auf Wiedersehen. Gute Besserung!
(You’re welcome. Until tomorrow then. Goodbye. Get better!)

SAGA
Wiederhören.
(Goodbye.)

This was a very nice Rezeptionistin (receptionist), wasn’t it! Giving the Patient (patient) tips how to survive the day and all. As you can see, the ability of describing your symptoms can come in handy even during the process of booking an appointment. That way, the severity of the condition becomes clear. Like this Patient (patient), who was asked to drop in the next morning, without having to make einen Termin (an appointment).

I might add that, if it’s really acute, and you cannot wait, you can just go to the hospital at any time.

3. Im Wartezimmer (In the waiting room)

At the Rezeption (reception), you usually get to fill out a form to identify any medical conditions of yours. This is important for the Arzt (doctor) to determine the fitting medication. Questions in this form could be:

  • Nehmen Sie zurzeit Medikamente? (Are you currently taking any medication?)
  • Haben Sie Allergien? (Do you have allergies?) or more specifically:
  • Haben Sie Allergien gegen medikamentöse Wirkstoffe? (Do you have any medication allergies?) This one’s a bit complicated. It literally means: Do you have allergies against medical substances? That one is really important.
  • Wie oft trinken Sie Alkohol? (How often do you drink alcohol?)
  • Sind Sie schwanger? (Are you pregnant?)
  • Rauchen Sie? (Do you smoke?)

It’s also common for the Anamnese (anamnesis) to contain family-related question, like

  • Sind in Ihrer Familie Krebserkrankungen bekannt? (Are there any cases of cancer know in your family?)
  • Sind in Ihrer Familie Herz- und Kreislauferkrankungen bekannt? (Are there any cases of heart- and circulation illnesses in your family?)

SAGA
Guten Tag! Ich habe einen Termin zur Urinprobe.
(Good afternoon! I have an appointment for a urine sample.)

FRAU VOGEL
Guten Tag, einmal Ihre Krankenversicherungskarte bitte.
(Yes, your health insurance card, please.)

SAGA
Hier ist meine europäische Krankenversicherungskarte. Ich komme aus Schweden.
(This is my european health insurance card. I come from Sweden.)

FRAU VOGEL
Eine Schwedin! Alles klar, dann bitte diese beiden Formulare hier ausfüllen. Sie können solange Platz nehmen. Danach kommen Sie zu mir und holen sich den Becher zur Urinprobe ab.
(A Swede! Alright, fill out these two forms then, please. Feel free to take a seat meanwhile. Afterwards come to me and get your cup for the urine sample).

SAGA
Alles klar.
(Alright.)

FRAU VOGEL

If you go to the doctors, it’s really important you bring your Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte (European health insurance card) – your European health insurance card! Without it, the doctor has no way of billing your health insurance, and they will have to bill you, which can get very expensive!

4. Der Arzt (The doctor)

FRAU STEINER
Frau Lindén?
(Miss Lindén?)

SAGA
Ja!
(Yes!)

FRAU STEINER
Guten Tag. Ich bin Dr. Steiner. Folgen Sie mir bitte.
(Good afternoon. I am Dr. Steiner. Please follow me.)

Nehmen Sie schonmal Platz. Ich bin gleich bei Ihnen.
(Have a seat. I will be right with you.)

The fact that German is a very picturesque language comes in handy when needing to describe the exact nature of our discomfort. You could say: Ich spüre ein… (I feel a…)

  • Kribbeln am Arm (tingling on the arm)
  • Jucken am Kopf (itching on the head)
  • Stechen in der Seite (stinging in the side)
  • Brennen im Hals (burning in the throat)
  • Pulsieren im Auge (pulsating in the eye)
  • Pochen im Ohr (throbbing in the ear)
  • Ziehen im Bauch (pulling in the abdomen)
  • Drücken im Rücken (pressure on the back)

Of course, you could feel any of these symptoms in any body part, so the combinations of expressions are endless. Learn all body parts in German here.

DR. STEINER
So, Frau Lindén. Wo drückt denn der Schuh?
(Well, miss Lindén. Where does the shoe pinch?)

SAGA
Ich spüre ein unbehagliches Kribbeln und Ziehen im Unterleib. Außerdem spüre ich ein Brennen beim Wasserlassen.
(I feel an uncomfortable tingling and pulling in my abdomen. Moreover, I feel a burn during urination.)

DR. STEINER
Wie lange haben sie diese Symptome bereits?
(How long have you had these symptoms?)

SAGA
Seit vorgestern. Aber es wird jeden Tag schlimmer.
(Since the day before yesterday. But it gets worse every day.)

DR. STEINER
Die Ergebnisse Ihrer Urinprobe zeigen, dass Sie eine Blasenentzündung haben.
(The results of your urine sample show, that you have a bladder infection.)

SAGA
Wusste ich’s doch.
(I knew it.)

DR. STEINER
Ich verschreibe Ihnen mildes Antibiotika. Nehmen Sie eine Tablette, dreimal täglich, morgens, mittags und abends zu den Mahlzeiten.
(’m prescribing mild antibiotics for you. Take a pill three times a day with the meals, in the morning, at noon and in the evening.)

SAGA
Ich verstehe.
(I understand.)

DR. STEINER
Sollte es in ein paar Tagen nicht besser werden, machen Sie bitte einen neuen Termin aus.
(If it doesn’t get better in a few days, make sure to book a new appointment.)

SAGA
Super. Vielen Dank.
(Great. Thanks a lot.)

DR. STEINER
Ich wünsche Ihnen eine gute Besserung.
(I hope you get better.)

SAGA
Danke schön.
(Thank you)

In this case, the doctor had an Urinprobe (urine sample) to go with. But in other cases, the doctor might ask you things like:

  • Öffnen Sie bitte den Mund. (Open your mouth, please.)
  • Atmen Sie tief ein. (Take a deep breath.)
  • Bitte einmal kräftig husten. (Cough firmly, please.)
  • Einmal oben frei machen, bitte. (Take off your shirt, please.)

Don’t get scared when you hear the last one. He’s a professional. He knows what he’s talking about. Do you though? Let’s find out with this little quiz.

5. Quiz (Quiz)

What phrase would you use to say something hurts in German?

a) Ich habe Schmerzen.
b) Ich bin schwanger.

Surely, being schwanger (pregnant) can also cause pain. In this case however, the correct answer was a) Ich habe Schmerzen ( have pain).

What phrase would you use to say that you have an appointment in German?

a) Ich habe eine Krankenversicherungskarte.
b) Ich habe einen Termin.

b is correct. Although it’s great that you have your Krankenversicherungskarte (health insurance card) on you!

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