Illness and Medicine

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Talking about Illness

Talking about symptoms

Taking medicine

Taking drugs

Additional Phrases

Nauseous / upset stomach



Talking About Illness

In korean, you don’t “have” disease, you “catch” disease


-> the disease you catch is marked with 에

감기에 걸렸어요-– I caught a cold

독감에 걸렸어요— I caught the flu

암에 걸렸어요— I caught cancer

All can be thought of as “I have~”


-> Notice these sentences are in the past tense. If you are cureently sick, you CAUGHT the illness before now (otherwise you wouldnt be sick now)

To say “I had the flu” you would use…. idk the technical name but it’s like “the past past”

걸렸어요 -> past

걸렸었어요 -> past past

-> 지난 주에 왜 학교 안 다녔어?

(why werent you at school last week?)

-> 감기에 걸렸었어

(i had a cold)

(-> you can think of the past past as “i had verbed”. for example “I had caught a cold”)



“what are your symptoms?”

Instead of “what”, They ask “how are your symptoms”:

증상이 어때요? / 증상이 어떻게 되세요?

-> The second one is the honorific version


열이 나고 머리가 아파요. 토하고 설사해요.

I have a fever and my head hurts. I do vomit and I do diarrhea. (I have vomiting and diarrhea)


-> 먹다 (to eat)

is used when taking medication

So when you wanna know what kind of medicine the doctor prescribed someone you can ask


-> 무슨 약을 먹어요?

what medicine are you taking?


약을 늦게 먹었어요

i took my medicine late


빨리 나으려면 반드시 약을 먹어야 돼

if you wanna get better fast, you need to be sure to take your medicine



-> 빨다 (to suck)

used for illegal drugs

So when you are watching a show, and it seems like the people who wrote it are high / on drugs, you can say:


그 사람들은 약을 빤 것 같아 ㅋㅋㅋ

i think they took drugs lol (/i think they are high)


무슨 약을 빤 거야?

what kind of drugs are they on??


additional phrases

Everything up to here (and the vocab section) was learned from natives. This section comes from this audio book. Practical Korean Conversation – Basic, Woo Sumi.

안색이 안 좋아요

you don’t look so good / look pale

-> literally “face color isnt good”

안 is from chinese for face (顔) aka hanja


어디가 불편하세요?

are you okay?/ do you not feel good?

-> literally “are you uncomfortable somewhere?”

or like “where is making you uncomfortable?”


이 약은 몇 알씩 먹으면 되나요?

how many pills do i take at a time?

-> is a counter for pills

-> “each”


하루 세번 식후 30분에 두 알씩 복용하세요

take 2 pills 3 times a day 30 minutes after eating

(a day day, 3 times, 30 minutes after meal, 2 pills each take)

약 복용하다 take medicine (formal for 약 먹다. it has hanja 服用)

식후 after meal


다른 증상은 없으세요?

do you have any other symptoms?


감기약 주세요

please give me cold medicine

( replace 감기약 with other meds!)

진통제 pain reliever

해열제 fever reducer

수면제 sleeping pill

기침약 cough medicine

ways of saying nauseous / upset stomach

속이 안 좋아요

i dont feel good / nauseous

-> literally “dont feel good on the inside (of stomach)”


속이 메스꺼워요

feel sick / nauseous

-> 메스껍다: nauseated


속이 울렁거려요

feel sick / nauseous

-> 울렁거리다 pound/throb

–> 속이 울렁거리다 to feel sick / nauseated


배 탈이 난 것 같아요

i think i have an upset stomach (indigestion)

-> a response to this could be “뭐 잘못드셨나요?” (“did you eat something bad?”

(“배 체하다 can replace “배 탈이 나다” both are for upset/indigestion)

*End Audiobook Information*



콧물 runny nose (nose water!)

-> 콧물이 나다 to have a runny nose

기침하다 to cough

기침이 나다 to have a cough


걸리다– to hang/catch

독감– flu

암- cancer


어떻다– to be how

머리– head

아프다- to be hurt/ sick

토하다– to vomit

설사하다– to have diarrhea

– medicine

장염– enteritis (intestinal inflammation)

위장염– gastroenteritis (inflammation of stomach and intestine…. like with the stomach flu)

몸살- body aches

몸살 있다- to have body aches

두통– headache

두통 있다– to have a headache. (but ive been told this isnt really used. instead- 머리가 아프다)

– illness

병에 걸렸다– caught an illness (but this sounds serious and long term, like cancer. regular kind of sick is just 전 아파요- im sick)

열- fever

열이 나다 – to have a fever

타박상– bruise

타박상을 입다– to have a bruise (in korean, you “wear” bruises)- 타박상을 입었어요– i got bruised

진통제 pain reliever

해열제 fever reducer

수면제 sleeping pill

기침약 cough medicine

감기약 cold medicine

병원 hospital

약국 pharmacy

약사 pharmacist

마약상 drug dealer (-> i learned this word from the drama lucifer but it also checked out lmao)

환자 patient

입원하다 to be hospitalized

퇴원하다 to be discharged




Published by Hannah & Shelbi

We are just 2 students who wish to share the love and joy of learning language through lesson posts and translations! We are doing this for fun, based on our experience and questions we ask native speakers. We are not fluent! Just passionate  ~ Hannah, Shelbi, and Jordan

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