SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

LEARNING SWEDISH

Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Sweden

It's the season when the horrible bugs strike and have us all spluttering into a tissue, so here's the vocab you need to deal with coughs, colds and flu in Sweden.

Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Sweden
Photo: Isabell Höjman/TT

It’s not pleasant but as the temperatures fall many people will be falling victim to traditional winter illnesses, from a slight cold to a nasty dose of the flu. So if you are feeling poorly, here’s the Swedish words you need to get help.

En förkylning – a cold. You can also use the adjective if you want to say you feel like you have a cold: jag är förkyld. 

If you have a basic winter cold there are lots of treatments available without prescription in the pharmacy. They include näsdroppar (nose drops) or nässprej (nose spray) if you’ve got a blocked nose, and halstabletter (throat tablets) or halssprej (throat spray) if you’ve got a sore throat. 

Hosta – a cough. If you have one of these you may want some hostmedicin (cough medicine), which you can get from a pharmacy, although Sweden’s 1177 healthcare information website states that it’s just as effective to drink a lot of water. Unlike in English, you don’t use the article when saying you have a cough. Instead, you say jag har hosta (literally: I have cough).

Bear in mind that Swedish pharmacists do extensive medical training so are able to provide consultations and advice on a range of minor illnesses.

If you’re buying cough medicine you will probably be asked if your cough is torr (dry) slemmig (wet or productive cough) allvarlig (severe) or kronisk (long-lasting).

En feber – A fever. If your illness is a little more severe and you are running a temperature this is the word you want. Again, your pharmacist can give you over-the-counter medication for this, and will advise you to consult a doctor if they consider it more severe.

Panodil – this is the most common brand-name for Paracetamol in Sweden and can be bought without prescription from all pharmacies if you need a painkiller or something to help a fever. It’s so ubiquitous that people generally refer to simply ‘Panodil’ rather than paracetamol. 

Influensa – The flu. Flu season affects thousands of people every year in Sweden and if you’re in an at-risk group it’s a good idea to get your flu vaccine (full details of how to access it here).

Vårdcentral – literally, your “health centre”, this is where you go to to speak to a läkare (doctor), the Swedish equivalent to a family doctor or GP, one that covers all types of medicine and doesn’t specialise.

Symtomen – The symptoms. If you visit the doctor they will probably ask your symptoms and these might include svullna halsmandlar (swollen tonsils), hosta (coughing) or jag har svårt att andas (I have difficulty breathing/swallowing). If you want to say that something hurts, you say jag har ont i [insert body part here]”. 

Ett recept– A prescription. The doctor hands these out then you go to the pharmacy to collect the medicine.

One very important question you might be asked is har du något läkemedelsallergi? – Are you allergic to any medications?

SEE ALSO:

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LEARNING SWEDISH

The bumper list of our best stories to help you learn Swedish

Just moved to Sweden and don’t know how to get started with studying Swedish, or an old-timer wanting to improve? Here is The Local’s bumper list of all the different ways you can boost your Swedish language skills.

The bumper list of our best stories to help you learn Swedish

Tip, tricks and tools

Learning a new language in a foreign country can be tricky. Here are some tools, together with some tips and tricks, put together by The Local and some of our sponsors.

Whether you want to study in a classroom, or try and pick it up as you go, while watching TV, take a look at all the tools at your disposal:

Vocabulary, phrases and grammar

A big part of learning a new language is expanding your vocabulary. Here’s a list of articles to read and tags to follow if you want to learn new Swedish words and phrases and impress the people around you with your extensive knowledge.   

The right words for the right situation

Learning all the vocabulary and phrases around a certain place or situation is a useful way to round out your language skills. Check out this section to learn how to talk about your problems in Swedish.

Cultural experiences

It can be daunting to navigate life while trying to speak and understand a new language. Learning from others’ experiences is a great help on your journey to become a fluent speaker.

SHOW COMMENTS