What is the best word for pain and health problems caused by a disease?

I want to use it as term for a collection of symptoms, that I gather.
For example: [headache, stomachache, nausea]
but without a diagnosis which disease caused it

In German I use the word Beschwerden for this. I checked different online translators, which gave these options:

discomfort, afflictions, ailment, disorders, complaints and trouble.

But I think complaints is mainly used when someone is disagreeing with something, right?

By the way, when should I use the plural form?

I found these dictionary entries:

Does this mean I can still use complaints?

  • 2
    I think 'affliction' may well fit in your context!!
    – user66974
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 9:50
  • Are you looking for "malaise"?
    – moonstar
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 11:34

5 Answers 5


"Symptoms" is probably the best and simplest word. You might get a more precise answer if you give an example of what you are trying to say.

And use the plural form if there is more than one symptom (both pain and vomiting, for example).


When it comes to terms that describe a medical illness it is not good to use words such as:

discomfort, ailment, disorders, complaints and trouble

Affliction is OK. In my humble opinion a better way to describe it would be saying they're or you're unwell or have a medical illness. This way you dont divulge any medical confidentiality.

Its probably best to sayunwell and if people ask "Whats wrong?", clarify with its a medical illness.

If confidentiality isn't relevant simply use painful disease.

  • Interessting point. But I'm not sure, if this will also cover my use case. I want to use it as term for a collection of symptoms, that I gather. For example: [headache, stomachache, nausea], but with no clear diagnosis which disease caused it
    – Thorben
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 10:00
  • I edited my answer and I think the word afflictions is probably the way to go. Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 10:30

Complaints may to lay ears connote whining self-pity, which I suspect is why posters so far have disliked it, but it carries no such connotation in medical usage; and indeed it fits the bill quite nicely, as the patient’s own subjective report of what all is wrong, why medical care is sought.

Use the plural when patient complains of more than one thing, as for instance occasional stuffiness and more persistent loss of the sense of smell (anosmia).



symptomatology: the collective symptoms of a patient or disease

Initial symptomatology includes fever...


The following expressions: trouble, ailment(s), complaint(s), and disorder(s) are generic terms which cover a wide range of symptoms.

Discomfort is perhaps the mildest and least serious sounding medical term, while the other terms insinuate that the person suffering from the ailment/trouble/complaint/ disorder actually needs to seek medical assistance.

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