Ailments and illnesses

A common problem that foreign visitors experience, especially in the early stages of visiting the Arab world, is an upset stomach. This is not inevitable, but an upset stomach can happen for a number of reasons: eating unfamiliar food, uncooked or undercooked meat, especially mincemeat, unwashed fruit, mayonnaise or drinking water from a tap.


Fortunately, in most Arabic towns and cities help is at hand. Pharmacies are plentiful and can handle most minor problems. Many pharmacies are also open at night. You will always find a list of all-night pharmacies in the local paper. Receptionists in the hotel or friends and hosts can also advise you where the nearest pharmacy is and what the opening times are.

In the pharmacy a little Arabic can go a long way, especially if helped by hand gestures. In this situation these would be very obvious ones such as ‘hand-on-stomach’, plus a grimace of pain. Often the pharmacist’s help restores the visitor to good health. 

Here are some useful Arabic words you should know when dealing with illnesses in an Arab country.

pharmacy Saydaleeya صَيدَلية
hospital mustashfaa مُسْتَشفى
ambulance sayyaarat is3aaf سيارة إِسعاف
doctor Tabeeb طبيب
chemist Saydaliyy صيدلي
nurse mumarriDa ممرضة


plaster laSqa لَصقة
tablets Hubbuub حُبوب
headache Sudaa3 صُداع
a cold bard برد
constipation imsaak امساك
prescription waSfa وصفة


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