So, you’ve come to Russia (or Ukraine, Belarus or any of the other countries of the former Soviet Union). You’ve had some excursions, visited museums, taken pictures of the main local sights and tasted local delicacies.


And all would be fine, but suddenly you aren’t feeling so good. Then you realize: you urgently need to visit a pharmacy.


In some pharmacies, the pharmacists speak English. These pharmacies are mainly located in the central parts of the big cities and have signs saying “We speak English.” However, if you aren’t lucky enough to find such a pharmacy, then you’ll need to go to a Russian speaking one and explain your problem.


Here are some phrases and advice that will help you.


Describing the problem


Do not ask for medical products using their names (unless you need some Aspirin, of course). The medicines you know may have different names in Russia. It would be better to name the active ingredient if you can remember it. If not, try and describe your problem, and the pharmacist will give you the appropriate medication.


Here is a list of phrases for describing your medical symptoms:


  • У меня/ моей жены(мужа)/ моего ребенка…. (I have / My wife (husband) has / My child has…)
  • У меня болит голова (I have a headache)
  • У меня мигрень (I have a migraine)
  • Я упал (упала). Я ударился (ударилась). У меня болит рука/нога/плечо/колено. (I fell down. I hurt myself. My arm / leg / shoulder / knee hurts.)
  • У меня насморк (I have a runny nose)
  • У меня простуда (I have a cold)
  • У меня болит зуб (I have a toothache)
  • У меня болит живот (I have a stomach ache)
  • Я переел (I've overeaten)
  • У меня аллергия (I have an allergy)
  • Мне нужен антисептик. Я порезался \разбил колено. (I need an antiseptic. I’ve cut myself \ broken my knee.)
  • У меня ожог (I have a burn)
  • У меня температура (I have a temperature)
  • У меня простуда (I have a cold)
  • У меня кашель (I have a cough)
  • Меня знобит (I have chills)
  • Меня тошнит (I'm sick)
  • У меня диарея (I have diarrhea)
  • У меня запор (I’m constipated)
  • Мне что-то попало в глаз (I’ve got something in my eye)
  • У меня болит глаз (I have a sore eye)
  • У меня повышенное давление (I have high blood pressure)
  • У меня пониженное давление (I have low blood pressure)


Providing details


The pharmacist will ask you if you need the medicine for an adult, a child or an elderly person, and may ask you other questions such as:


  • Вам нужно лекарство для себя или для ребенка? (Do you need the medicine for yourself or for a child?)
  • Сколько лет ребенку? (How old is the child?)
  • Ему (ей) два месяца (He (she) is two months old)
  • Ему (ей) три года/ шесть лет (He (she) is three / six years old)


Inform the pharmacist of the best method for you or your child to take the medication:


  • Вы хотите таблетки/ шипучие таблетки/ порошок для приготовления горячего напитка/капли или сироп? (Do you want tablets / effervescent tablets / dissolving powder / drops or syrup?)


If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t forget to tell the pharmacist about it. This will influence their choice of medicine:


  • Я беременна / Моя жена беременна (I am pregnant / My wife is pregnant)
  • Нужно лекарство для беременной (I need the medicine for a pregnant woman)
  • Я кормлю грудью (I am breast-feeding)


If you or your child have any allergies, be sure to tell the pharmacist about it:


  • У меня аллергия на лактозу/пенициллин (I'm allergic to lactose / penicillin)
  • Мне нельзя принимать сахар (I can’t have sugar)


Asking questions


Don’t forget that all the instructions for how to take a particular medicine are written in the national language only. In order to avoid having to search for a translation of the instructions on the Internet, ask the pharmacist all the necessary questions, like where to store the medicine, and how, when and for how long to take it:


  • Храните препарат в холодильнике (Store the medicine in a refrigerator)


  • Сколько раз в день принимать лекарственное средство? (How many times a day should I take the medicine?)
  • Принимайте его три раза в день по две таблетки (Take two tablets, three times a day)


  • Как долго принимать препарат? (How long should I take the medicine for?)
  • Принимайте его три дня (Take it for three days)


  • Когда принимать лекарство: до или после еды? (When should I take the medicine: before or after meals?)
  • Принимайте его натощак или через два часа после еды (Take it on an empty stomach or two hours after meals)


I hope that you have a great trip to a Russian speaking country! I also hope that your trip will be problem-free and that you’ll have the good fortune to not need any of the phrases listed above!


Image Sources


Hero Image by Victor (CC BY 2.0)