Finnish for busy people

Being Sick and Illnesses – Finnish Vocabulary

So you’re sick, are you? Or do you just want to learn some Finnish vocabulary about illnesses to be able to have a conversation about them? Below, you can find a list of some very common diseases. You can learn more illness related vocabulary on our page about doctor visits.

Finnish English
Minulla on/oli I have/had
ahdistushäiriö anxiety disorder
aivohalvaus a stroke
aivotärähdys a concussion
ajos, paise an abcess
allergia allergy
anemia anemia
auringonpistos sunstroke
astma asthma
bronkiitti bronchitis
emätintulehdus vaginal infection
epilepsia epilepsy
eturauhassyöpä prostate cancer
flunssa flu, influenza
heinänuha hay-fever
hengitysvaikeuksia difficulty breathing
ihotauti skin disease
ihottuma a rash
inkontinenssi incontinence
keskenmeno miscarriage
keuhkokuume pneumonia
kitarisantulehdus tonsillitis
korvatulehdus ear infection
lavantauti typhoid
leukemia leukemia
malaria malaria
masennus depression
merisairaus sea-sickness
migreeni migraine
munuaiskivi kidney stone
nivelreuma arthritis
noidannuoli lumbago
Finnish English
Minulla on/oli I have/had
närästys heartburn
pahoinvointi nausea
paleltuma frostbite
paniikkikohtaus panic attack
polio polio
rintasyöpä breast cancer
sairaus illness
tartunta infection
tuberkuloosi tuberculosis
raskausmyrkytys pre-eclampsia
reumatismi rheumatism
ripuli diarrhea
ruokamyrkytys food poisoning
sappikivi gall stone
selkäsärky, selkäkipu back ache
sikotauti mumps
sokeritauti, diabetes diabetes
sokki shock
sukupuolitauti venereal disease
sydänkohtaus heart attack
sydänvika heart problem
syöpä cancer
trauma trauma
traumaperäinen stressihäiriö PTSD
tuhkarokko scarlet fever
ummetus constipation
umpisuolentulehdus appendicitis
unettomuus insomnia
vatsahaava stomach ulcer
vesirokko chicken pox

Some basic sentences

Finnish English
Olen sairas. I’m sick.
Minulla on huono olo. I don’t feel well.
En voi hyvin. I’m not doing well.
En tiedä, mikä minua vaivaa. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
Tarvitsen lääkärin. I need a doctor.
Tarvitsen lääkettä. I need medication.
Haluan varata ajan lääkärille. I want to make an appointment with a doctor.
Voisitko soittaa ambulanssin? Could you call an ambulance?
Tarvitsen lääkärintodistuksen. I need a doctor’s note.
En voi tulla kouluun tänään. I can’t come to school today.
En voi tulla töihin tänään. I can’t come to work today.

That’s it for illnesses. You can study useful vocabulary sentences for visiting the doctor as well by clicking the link!

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Hei, two questions:
– Wiktionary names “emätintulehdus” for vaginitis – “emäntientulehdus” struck me as a little odd, is it an alternative form, a (weird!) kind of euphemism, or simply an error? Most if not all google-results for “emäntientulehdus” seem to lead to or stem from this page. Also, can “tulehdus” mean both infection and inflammation in this case?
– The common cold is not in this list – is “olen vilustunut” used in everyday speech at all? I mostly hear people saying they have “flunssa” when talking about either the flu (real influenza) or also about the commom cold. Which is more common/natural, would you say? Are there different levels of formality?
Thanks, and all the best!

Inge (admin)

“Emätintulehdus” is the correct word, not sure how I typoed it so badly! I’m not sure I know the difference in English between an infection and inflammation.

“Olen vilustunut” is indeed less common. The more common phrase “minulla on flunssa” can be both “flu” and “influenza” in everyday language, which can be somewhat confusing. Many may say “Minulla on nuha”, if it’s not serious.


Thanks for the clarification!
Infection and inflammation are similar, but not the same thing:
For example: “Tulehdus, tulehdusvaste, tulehdusreaktio eli inflammaatio on elimistön immuunipuolustusjärjestelmän tapa reagoida infektioon eli mikrobitartuntaan” (
So, very broadly, the way I understood it, infektio/tartunta / infection in general ist more the “catching or having caught the agent” (and it’s spreading and may be causing symptoms in the body), while tulehdus / inflammation is one specific reaction of the immune system (which can be caused by an infection).
But it may very well be that in finnish casual speech this distinction ist not being made?


Inflammation is the symptom, infection is a potential cause. When I was briefly on peritoneal dialysis last year, I was warned about infections of the peritoneum (ie when the bacteria or virus gets into the peritoneum) causing peritonitis (when the peritoneum becomes inflamed). Inflammation can also be caused by injury (e.g. tendonitis). It is possible that other languages don’t make this distinction outside of technical medical language but I don’t know for certain