English for PTA


It’s that time of year again: overheated rooms, unfriendly weather and people all around coughing and sneezing. And with over 200 cold-virus types, even the most intact immune system can be challenged.

Seite 1/1 3 Minuten

Seite 1/1 3 Minuten

The common cold is as individual as the person afflicted with it, making it difficult to treat. Because of the ever-increasing range of OTC products on offer to deal with the symptoms, PTAs need to use all their know-how in advising customers who have been infected. From the outset it should be remembered that there are differences between colds and flu, the former is suited for self-treatment, the latter, especially because it may be accompanied by more serious symptoms, should be referred to a GP. There are so many precautions that can be taken during this unhealthy season. The simplest things such as sneezing into the crook of the arm and correct hand-washing prevent the spread of viruses.

Pharmacy customer: Good morning. I think I’m coming down with a cold.
PTA: Most of the people who have come to us over the past weeks have the same problem. May I ask what your symptoms are?

Well, I’m a bit hoarse, my voice is a bit scratchy and my nose is a little tingly and itchy.
Do you have a headache? Or is your temperature raised? Quite a few people have the flu at the moment.

I do have a headache but I don’t have a temperature.
What about coughing? You said that you are a bit hoarse.

Yes, I cough occasionally.
Is your cough productive?

No, but it’s very dry and irritating, sort of tickly, especially if I have to talk too much.
Do you have trouble swallowing?

Yes, but not much.
Okay. So I can recommend these throat lozenges, you can suck one as slowly as possible every 4 hours and not more than 4 lozenges a day.

I know them from home.
Drinking plenty of fluids such as mineral water and tea is very important. We also have this really excellent throat spray. Do you have any allergies or take medication regularly?

I have bronchial asthma.
Let me just check the contents … aha, it contains menthol. No, so we can’t give you that.

What else can you recommend?
Paracetamol for your headache but sometimes asthmatics react to it.

That’s okay I don’t normally have any problems.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables as well as getting lots of fresh air help to reduce the spread of the cold. And hand-washing!

Hand-washing! Why? I wash my hands a few times a day.
How long do you wash them: 10 or maybe 20 seconds?

If I’m really honest, I believe about 10 seconds is usual!
Unfortunately, that’s not enough. 30 seconds with soap and washing in between your fingers are thought to be sufficient.

30 seconds!
Hand-washing is one of the first steps in stopping the spread of infection. Another is avoiding handshakes.

I see. Thank you for your help. Goodbye.


sneezing niesen
ever-increasing ständig zunehmend,ständig steigende
range Auswahl
outset Anfang
former … latter erstgenannt … letztgenannt
accompanied by begleitet von
referred to a GP an einen Arzt verwiesen
precautions Vorsichtsmaßnahmen
crook of the arm Armbeuge
spread Verbreitung
coming down with a cold  eine Erkältung ausbrüten
hoarse heiser
scratchy kratzig
tingly and itchy kribbelnd und juckend
have a temperature (Idiom) Fieber haben
tickly kitzelnd
throat lozenges Lutschtabletten
suck lutschen
fluids Flüssigkeiten
throat spray Halsspray
avoiding vermeiden

Den Artikel finden Sie auch in Die PTA IN DER APOTHEKE 11/11 auf Seite 66.

Catherine Croghan, Lecturer in English and native speaker