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  • Hi, I'm Oli.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn how to talk about illness, medicine and healthcare in

  • English.

  • You'll learn how to deal with a visit to the doctor's office, how to talk about different

  • healthcare systems, how to talk about going to hospital, and more.

  • First, don't forget to check out our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

  • You can study English with our free lessons, including videos, listening lessons, and quizzes.

  • If you're looking for online English classes, you can choose from one of our many professional

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  • Let's start by looking at language you can use if you need to see a doctor.

  • So, what can I do for you today?

  • Well, I've been having these headaches, just behind my eyes.

  • How long have you been having them?

  • For about a week now.

  • They aren't constantthey come and go, but they're really painful.

  • Do you have a fever?

  • No, I don't think so.

  • Any respiratory symptoms?

  • How do you mean?

  • For example, do you have a blocked nose, a sore throat, a cough, or anything like that?

  • No, nothing like that.

  • Is this the first time you've had a problem like this?

  • As far as I can remember, yeah.

  • OK, please sit on the bed over here.

  • I need to check your pulse and blood pressure.

  • I'll also need to check your lymph nodes to see if they're swollen.

  • In the dialogue, the doctor asked many questions.

  • Can you remember any?

  • Typically, the doctor will ask about your symptoms, your medical history, and about

  • medication which you're taking.

  • To ask about your symptoms, the doctor might ask 'Do you have a fever?'

  • 'Do you have a cough?'

  • 'Do you have a sore throat?'

  • The doctor might ask more questions about a specific symptom.

  • For example: 'How long have you been feeling like this?'

  • 'Is this the first time you've had a problem like this?'

  • 'How severe is the pain?'

  • If you're describing your symptoms, it's common to use the present perfect tense, especially

  • for a problem that appears repeatedly.

  • For example: 'I've been having really bad headaches.'

  • 'I've been having some stomach problems.'

  • 'I've been having a lot of problems getting to sleep.'

  • You could also add a time period, as in: 'I've had this cough for a week now.'

  • To describe more stable symptoms, use the present simple tense.

  • For example: 'I have a swelling in my right knee.'

  • 'I have this rash on my arm.'

  • After you describe your symptoms, the doctor might do some basic checks on you.

  • For example, he or she might want to take your pulse check your blood pressure

  • or listen to your heartbeat or breathing using a stethoscope.

  • Next, the doctor will suggest further treatment, and possibly prescribe medicine for you to

  • take.

  • Are you taking any medication currently?

  • No, nothing.

  • Any allergies?

  • No.

  • I'm going to prescribe you some painkillers.

  • Take one as soon as you feel your headaches starting.

  • If you're still in pain after an hour, take a second one.

  • Don't take more than two pills in four hours, or more than six pills in a 24-hour period.

  • OK

  • Also, don't drink alcohol or take any other anti-inflammatories while you're taking

  • these.

  • Can't you do some more tests?

  • What if it's something more serious?

  • If you're still having the same problem in two weeks, then we'll need to investigate

  • further.

  • These things often clear up by themselves.

  • You should also make sure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and avoid stress if possible.

  • Do I have to pay for the prescription?

  • You pay a seven-pound prescription fee.

  • I'm giving you enough pills to last four weeks, so you should have enough.

  • Can I take it to any chemist's?

  • Yes, of course.

  • There's a pharmacy in the supermarket around the corner.

  • You could get your medicine there.

  • OK, I'll do that.

  • Thank you.

  • Doctors can prescribe you medicine or other treatments.

  • They do this by writing what you need on a piece of paper—a prescription.

  • 'Prescribe' is the verb, and 'prescription' is the noun.

  • You can also use the noun 'prescription' to refer to the medicine which a doctor prescribes

  • for you.

  • For example, you could say: 'The doctor prescribed antihistamines, but they didn't

  • help.'

  • 'I lost my prescription, so I'll have to call the doctor and see if she can send

  • me a replacement.'

  • Antihistamines are often taken by people who have allergies.

  • In the dialogue, do you remember what kind of medicine the doctor prescribed?

  • She prescribed painkillers.

  • Common painkillers are paracetamol and ibuprofen.

  • Painkillers may also be anti-inflammatoriesthey reduce fever and swelling.

  • After you have your prescription, you can collect your medicine from a pharmacyalso

  • called a chemist's in UK English, although both words are used.

  • The doctor or pharmacist might also give you advice on how to take your medicine.

  • For example: 'Take one pill every twelve hours.'

  • 'Make sure you take the pills with food.'

  • 'Avoid alcohol while you're taking these, or they might not be as effective.'

  • Finally, the doctor might also give you some more general advice.

  • In the dialogue, the doctor mentioned three things.

  • Do you remember them?

  • I said 'You should also make sure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and avoid

  • stress if possible.'

  • Last question for this section: what happens if you don't stay hydrated?

  • If you don't stay hydrated by drinking enough fluids, you'll get dehydrated.

  • Next, let's look at language to use if you aren't sure where to go or how to get medical

  • help.

  • So, weird question, but what do I do if I need to see a doctor?

  • I've never been to hospital or anything here, and I have no idea how it works.

  • You have insurance?

  • No.

  • No?

  • Anyway, what's wrong with you?

  • Nothing much.

  • I have this swelling in my wrist, and it's a little uncomfortable to move it.

  • I'd just like to get it checked out.

  • Well, you could go to a public hospital.

  • I think as a resident you're entitled to free public healthcare, but even if you have

  • to pay, it won't be much.

  • You might have to wait for a long time, though.

  • You mean, you have to wait to see a doctor?

  • Yes, that too, but I meant that after you see a doctor, it might be a long time before

  • you get any treatment.

  • From what I hear, the public health system is really overstretched at the moment, and

  • people have to wait weeks or months for treatment.

  • So, you have private health insurance?

  • Yeah, most people do.

  • You could also go to a private clinic, or just go to a GP and let him or her refer you

  • to the right specialist if you need further treatment.

  • Would that be very expensive?

  • A GP appointment normally costs about 40 or 50 Euros.

  • For further treatment, it depends what you need, obviously.

  • Of course, if you're uninsured, it'll be more expensive, but it's not likely to

  • be ridiculous.

  • Maybe I'll do that, then.

  • I'd prefer to get it looked at sooner.

  • Can you recommend anyone?

  • I can give you the details for my GP.

  • There's also a website I can show you where you can find a doctor closer to where you

  • live, if you like.

  • That sounds great.

  • Thanks.

  • In your country, if you need to see a doctor, what do you do first?

  • Can you go directly to a hospital, or do you need to go to a GP or smaller clinic first?

  • Let's take the UK as an example.

  • Most people in the UK use public healthcare, which is almost completely free.

  • Some people choose to buy private insurance, which can give you more choice about where

  • and when you get treatment.

  • If you're using public healthcare, you'll generally register with a GP.

  • 'GP' stands for 'general practitioner', meaning a doctor who doesn't specialise

  • in one area.

  • GPs mostly work in small clinics, not in hospitals.

  • If you have a problem, you'll go to your GP first.

  • Your GP will then help you to arrange further treatment if you need it.

  • For example, your GP might refer you to a specialist if you need more targeted treatment.

  • In other countries, most people have healthcare insurance.

  • In some places, healthcare can be very expensive if you're uninsured.

  • What about in your country?

  • Look at three questions:

  • One: do most people use public healthcare, or is it more usual to buy private health

  • insurance?

  • Two: is public healthcare high-quality and reliable?

  • Why or why not?

  • Three: are all residents entitled to free public healthcare, or are there restrictions?

  • Could you answer these questions?

  • Try it!

  • Say an answer out loud, or write it down.

  • Or, do both!

  • Remember that you might need to repeat and practise your answer several times, so that

  • it is fluent and clear.

  • Did you do it?

  • If so, feel free to share your answers with other learners in the comments.

  • Let's move on.

  • What happens if you have a more serious health issue, and you need to stay in hospital?

  • Have you heard about what happened to Louis?

  • No, what?

  • He went to the doctor's for a routine check-up, and they discovered he had a major cardiac

  • problem.

  • They sent him to A&E right away; they wouldn't let him go home even for an hour.

  • Then, he had surgery the same day.

  • No way!

  • I saw him on Tuesday.

  • He looked absolutely fine.

  • Yeah, I was shocked, too.

  • Anyway, we should go and see him, don't you think?

  • He would probably appreciate some company.

  • Sure

  • How long are they keeping him in?

  • From what I heard, they want to monitor him for a few days, and then he can go home.

  • So, when can we go?

  • Do they have set visiting hours?

  • Yeah, it's in the afternoon some time.

  • I can check on their website.

  • Let me check with his wife, too, because I'm sure she'll be spending time there, and

  • I think there's a two-visitor maximum.

  • I hope he's alright.

  • I've never had an operation or had to stay overnight in hospital, but I imagine it's

  • fairly miserable.

  • Yup, you're not wrong.

  • Hopefully he'll be discharged soon.

  • We should take him some fruit or something nice to eat.

  • Can we do that?

  • I think so, but I'll check to be sure.

  • Look at a sentence from the dialogue: 'They sent him to A&E right away.'

  • Do you know what 'A&E' means?

  • A&E stands for 'accident and emergency'.

  • It's the hospital department where you go if you have a serious medical issue.

  • In American English it's commonly called 'ER'—'emergency room'.

  • Let's look at four more sentences from the dialogue.

  • In each sentence, there's a word missing.

  • Can you remember the missing words?

  • If not, you can also go back and review the dialogue to find them, if you want!

  • Did you find the missing words?

  • Let's look.

  • 'How long are they keeping him in?'

  • means 'How long will he have to stay in hospital?'

  • 'They' here refers to the hospital staff.

  • Hospitals have visiting hours, when you can go and spend time with your friends and relatives

  • who are staying there.

  • Even if you need to go to hospital, you might be an outpatient, meaning that you go to hospital,

  • do what you need, and then go home again.

  • The opposite is 'inpatient', meaning that you need to stay overnight.

  • When you're ready to leave hospital and go home, they discharge you.

  • You can discharge yourself earlier, but your doctors might try to persuade you to stay

  • longer.

  • Now, let's look at our final section: recovering from a health problem.

  • So, how are you feeling?

  • Quite fragile, to be honest.

  • I mean, I feel better than I did, but it's a long process.

  • Well, that's to be expected.

  • You had a major operation.

  • How long do they say it'll take to recover?

  • They don't give exact answers to things like that.

  • I guess every case is different, but they said I should be back to normal in around

  • three months.

  • Three months?!

  • Obviously I won't be like this for three months, or at least I hope not.

  • I get tired so easily right now.

  • They told me I should get some strength back in a couple of weeks.

  • Do you have to go back in for any more tests?

  • I have to go tomorrow to get the incision cleaned and dressed.

  • It's a big wound, so that'll take a while to heal just by itself.

  • Apart from that, I think I have to go back in a month or so for an ECG.

  • Maybe there's more, but I'm not focusing on that right now.

  • One day at a time!

  • Do you need any help with anything?

  • Please ask if you do.

  • I'd love to help if I can.