Most of us have been there at one time or another, falling ill abroad in a country where we don’t speak the language. This, of course, poses a series of problems depending on how ill you are. In most cases you will probably be fine in a day or two after having had some rest, fluids and perhaps some painkillers. However, if the condition is more serious and you find yourself in need of a doctor then you will most likely need to visit a medical center or a hospital. If you then are traveling in a non-English speaking country, this might cause some problems.

Luckily there are ways around this issue such as for instance conducting a search online in order to find English-speaking doctors in Seville, if you are in Spain that is. Before presenting possible solutions, perhaps it’s good to go over a few of the most common issues you might experience when falling ill abroad in a non-English speaking country.

5 issues

1. Understanding how it all works – encountering language barriers while traveling is always frustrating but most of the time the issue at hand will have something to do with ordering food or perhaps asking for directions. When it comes to your health, the stakes are much higher though. You simply can’t afford there to be any misunderstandings and the translations need to be flawless. What you really need is to find a doctor that speaks proficient English in order for you to feel safe and well taken care of.

By conducting a search online, you will most of the time be able to find English-speaking doctors in your immediate surroundings. Hopefully you will then also be able to read and understand how to go about visiting the medical facility in question.

2. Explaining your symptoms – once having arrived at a clinic, medical center or a hospital you will most likely encounter the next issue. Even if you have managed to find a medical facility where there should be a doctor present that speaks English, they are most likely not the first person you will encounter. Try and use online translation services so that you can make yourself understood, explain your symptoms and most importantly ask for a doctor that speaks English. Perhaps you can even use idioms to make your request clearer.

Hopefully this will lead you to have a consultation with the doctor in question and afterwards be on your way to a speedy recovery.

3. Payment – once having had your consultation with the doctor it is time to sort out any immediate payment. This is another common issue when falling ill abroad, understanding the different payment systems in each country. It’s great to travel but one of the first things you should always make yourself acquainted with is how the healthcare system work together with your own insurances. This way you will at least know a little about what you might expect.

Here again, an online translator will come in handy unless you have the opportunity to ask another member of the medical staff, provided they speak English, of course.

4. How to approach the aftercare – depending upon how your doctor’s visit pan out, there will most likely be some directions regarding your aftercare as well, this is, of course, a moot point should you be admitted but even then this is a common issue you will face. If you are to stay at the hospital, hopefully there will be medical staff available that speaks English once you have explained that you do not speak the local language.

However, if you are realized with instructions on how to continue your treatment, you need to make sure that you understand all of the instructions that are provided. Ask the doctor to provide substantial explanations as well as what to do if you start feeling worse. Once you have established report with the doctor, make use and ask all and any questions you might have.

5. Medication – the final most common issue that you might face when falling ill abroad is the question of medication. If you are prescribed medication, make sure you know why you should be taking it, how you should be taking it and most importantly, what you should do if you experience any side effects. Consult your doctor and make sure you also know how to go about getting a hold of your medication.

Familiarize yourself with different healthcare systems

Don’t be afraid to go on your next journey, wherever it may lead. Instead, take precautions such as familiarizing yourself with the local healthcare system. Regardless if you are taking a trip to Paris or Munich, remember it is best to be prepared. Luckily you are able to find the answer to most questions online. The most common issues mentioned here are by no means an exhaustive list but a good indicator as to why you should always be prepared.