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Illnesses ONLY in Germany - California Globetrotter

At the moment, I am suffering from an illness only found in Germany. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious and it’s not serious which nonetheless inspired this post. Since living in Germany, I’ve heard several interesting sicknesses that my coworkers or German family has suffered from that I had NEVER heard of before that can only be found in Germany. So, the question is whether or not these “illnesses” are real or if Germans are a bunch of people who love to play “hookie”.

1. Hexenschuss

Hexenschuss_-_Dramatischer_Verein_NiederwerrnCurrently, I am suffering from a Hexenschuss, or the English medical term is Lumbago also known as a sciatic nerve problem. Pretty much, a Hexenschuss translates to “shot by a witch”. So I have been shot by the witch, aka just a pulled muscle from a sudden movement. I was perfectly fine all day and then by 9-10pm, I went to get up off the couch and couldn’t move because it hurt so bad. The pain literally took my breath away and I have no idea how it happened.

This term was first used in the 16th century, is probably based on the superstition that witches have the power to harm – and the “Hexenschuss” victim ends up bent over like an old witch. Therefore, I have been hunched over for a week with lower back pain which hurts when I move, bend over or turn. SO, watch out for that witch or she might getcha!

2. Föhnkrankheit

2404_foehn“Föhn” is a term used to describe the wind as cools going up the mountain and then warms up coming down the other side of the mountain and compresses the air causing many people to feel like they have a severe headache. I had never heard of this term until I looked up this illness which a friend just told me she was suffering from last week. When she told me, I had just said “huh, that’s strange”. But apparently, this sickness is most predominantly found in Germany, especially along the Alps, Austria, Switzerland and France and the German-speaking regions of Northern Italy.

 3. Luftzug or “Zug”

This is absolutely one of my favorite illnesses I have found in Germany. I always joke about it because its so serious to Germans, but for me its hilarious. It literally means to feel a breeze or draft of air and then your body tenses. I have had several students ask me to shut the window for example because they feel a “Zug” coming. Like its contagious or something. From my experience, many of my students freak out about this, especially if they aren’t wearing a scarf. I think its the main reason why Germans are so serious about their scarfs here. Even in the middle of summer I see people walking around in big winter scarfs and in the fall and spring, they start wearing their big winter jackets and hike up their hoods to prevent the “Zug” from blowing on the back of their necks.

4. Frühjahrsmüdigkeit (froo-yars-moo-dig-kite)

This next one I found during my investigations which made me laugh out loud with disbelief. Frühjahrsmüdigkeit literally translates to “early year tiredness” aka “spring fatigue”. I just thought that was the funniest thing when I thought about someone calling into work to say “I can’t come into work today, I’m suffering from Frühjahrsmüdigkeit” haha. But I guess it’s kind of logical as your body is changing with the sunlight patterns and maybe your hormones are out of balance or maybe it has to do with the lack of Vitamin D from no sun during the long winters in Germany.

5. Kreislaufzusammenbruch (cries-lawf-zoos-amen-broch)

This big long fancy-schmancy German word looks deathly serious until I tell you the translation just means “circulatory collapse”. That too sounds serious. A friend of mine said this to me once and I asked her what the heck this meant! She told me it’s like feeling dizzy or woozy. I guess we would just say that we were feeling light headed aka playing hookey to get out of going to school or work. But I guess if you just mention you have Kreislaufzusammenbruch, it sounds serious enough to me! You better not go to work! Outside of Germany, everyone else would just curl up and die. But I guess it’s a regular occurrence in Germany.

6. Lebensmüdigkeit

krokofutterungThis next one I also found while researching German illnesses. Lebensmüdigkeit literally translates to “life tiredness” or despair or world-weariness. I guess its commonly used when someone has just done something totally stupid which is dangerous to their life. You can yell at your friend in German (because being yelled at in German is more terrifying that flying monkeys) “Are you Lebensmüdigkeit!!!!” haha

7. Hörsturz (Whore-sturrss)

This is another very popular illness to be found in Germany but is practically underheard of anywhere outside of Germany. It literally means having a sudden loss of hearing which sends many Germans to the hospital apparently, even though it doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. I have never heard of anyone suddenly loosing their hearing temporarily, unless you’re talking about “selective hearing”.

8. Fernweh (Fern-wey)

I definitely suffer from a 24/7 Fernweh! Fernweh is the complete opposite of homesickness. Instead it is more a sickness of feeling like you need to leave, to travel and go somewhere new. I don’t know how I am even capable to working on a daily basis since I have a severe long term Fernweh illness. I’m always infected! haha

SO, if you know of any more German illnesses I should know about, please let me know! I’d love to know what other sicknesses I can catch ONLY in Germany! 🙂

Other posts about the German language:

100 Key German Phrases to Know Before You Come to Germany!

The CRAZY German Language

9 Awesome German Idioms

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Replies to Strange Illnesses You Can ONLY Get In Germany

  1. Don’t forget about having to keep your kidneys warm! That was one thing that struck me right off the bat — the concern here for cold kidneys 🙂 I made a video about the subject last year if you’re interested… Of course I don’t think it’s good to get cold! But I don’t think I need to worry about my kidneys more than any other organ 🙂

  2. He he very good… 😉

    You should add “Kreislauf” in general. You will often hear Germans say “Ich habe Kreislauf” or complain: “Mein Kreislauf…” to express they are: lazy /have a hangover / have not slept enough /are affected by the weather, or many more reasons. A “Kreislaufzusammenbruch” would be more serious, means you fainted or broke down.

  3. Don’t forget this special kind of parasite: “Ohrwurm”! It translates to “Ear worm” and is used to describe a song you can not get out of your mind.

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