Cue Card Sample

IELTS Cue Card Sample 429 - Describe a health problem

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a health problem you or someone you know had.

You should say:

  • what it was
  • how you/this person had this health problem
  • what you or this person had to do to get better

and discuss how you/this person felt about this health problem.


Model Answer 1:
We all have health issues from time to time. But, by the grace of almighty, I haven’t had any major health issues in my life so far. But, one of my coworkers had a health problem that caused him much suffering, and today, I will talk about this colleague and his health problem.

My colleague had a fatty liver problem which he had come to know about a year ago. Prior to that, of course, he was complaining about pain and discomfort in his abdomen, as well as about his constant fatigue. In fact, he became so sick at some point that he couldn’t even come to the office for days in a row. But, he didn’t really care about those health issues since he thought that he was only having some kind of chronic gastric problems.

By the way, he did have gastric problems many times before that, so it was only natural for him to consider his health problems as some gastric related issues. Besides, he also had a habit of eating all kinds of junk and fatty foods without ever considering negative health effects. Of course, we, at the office, suggested him to cut the amount of fatty food and food with sugar, but he was just never in the mood to listen to our good advice.

His overweight also played an important role in developing his fatty liver disease. So, again, it was only a matter of time that he was going to have some major health issues like that. However, after going to a doctor and taking some medicines, he started to feel better, albeit very slowly. Besides, he also had to take bed rest for a considerable period of time before actually being able to work again.

Anyway, I felt really bad about the health problem of this co-worker of mine since we always used to laugh and make jokes with each other. Besides, I, together with the other staffs, also was a bit worried about our works at the office since we were struggling to finish our works in his absence.


Sample Answer 2:
Gosh, that seems like quite a personal topic!  I don’t think I feel quite comfortable talking about someone else’s health problem, so I’ll pick one that is about me.  Erm, I’ll tell you what it was, how I had it and how eventually I got better.  I’ll also try and explain a bit about how I felt, though that’s hard to do, so you might have to ask me some extra questions to help me make sense of it!

So what happened was a post-concussion syndrome.  I had a fall from a horse, it wasn’t even that bad a fall, to be honest.  I’d had a riding lesson, and at the end I was sitting on the horse, standing there just chatting to my instructor, we weren’t even moving.  Then something happened on the yard, possibly a load fell off the back of a lorry, or something similar, which made the loudest noise imaginable, my horse was startled and plunged forward instinctively.  I was unprepared, so just toppled off backwards, hitting my head as I did so.  I always wear a hard hat, so that gave me some protection, but it was a hell of a bang.  In cartoons, you see pictures of people seeing stars after being hit on the head, and that is what it was like!  My vision went, and I saw a bright light, and my how it hurt!  However, I didn’t lose consciousness or anything, and I got back on the horse briefly to reassure myself I wouldn’t lose my nerve.  I put the horse away, untacking and brushing her off, and leaving her with a big pile of hay to eat (it wasn’t her fault, the ‘fright and flight’ reaction is a pure instinct in a prey animal).  I drove home.  I didn’t feel great, and the next couple of days was the weekend so I didn’t go out, I just slept a lot, and felt a bit sorry for myself.

On Monday, I went into work as usual but felt really peculiar.  It was the first time in a couple of days that I had seen anyone, and I found that it was really difficult to communicate.  I had gaps in my vocabulary, and I was really inappropriately emotional.  The phone on my desk rang, and I just couldn’t answer it, I felt I wouldn’t know what to say.  It was very frightening, I just sat and cried.  A colleague I worked with came in, and it was difficult for me to explain what was wrong as I honestly didn’t know.  She offered to give me a lift home, but I said I’d be OK to make my own way if she would let my boss know.  She knew I must be really poorly, as I’d been working there for over a year and had never before had a day off for anything or even been late to work.  I left the building and then felt quite panicky as I couldn’t remember how to get to the bus stop.  I knew this was bad, but I didn’t know what to do.  I managed to walk home and just went straight to bed.

The next week was awful, I just slept, and cried and felt really confused.  I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to go to work as I felt very fearful of just going outside.  I made an appointment to see my doctor.  I was very lucky as the person I saw had by chance a particular interest in head injuries.  She explained that everything I was experiencing – the loss of memory, the emotional crying; the fatigue, was actually quite ‘normal’ for some people following an accident of this type.  That was the good news, the bad news is that this is known as a post-concussion syndrome and there isn’t much you can do to get better.  You just have to be patient. However she did say that I’d need to give myself some mental stimulation to help repair the pathways in my brain, so even though it was exhausting and frightening it was important to get out, to go for a walk, or get a cup of coffee.  To begin with, it was very difficult to do these things because I was scared I’d forget where I was and not be able to get home.  I also felt extremely vulnerable because I knew I looked ‘normal’ but might behave in an inappropriate way – like bursting into tears in a shop because they didn’t have the newspaper I wanted.  It’s very difficult to imagine what this is like unless you have experienced it.  You know you are behaving in a way that is odd, and not acceptable, but you simply cannot control it.  I also had a few experiences of meeting people who knew me, but I did not recognise, that was very hard to understand for them and me too!

I ended up having two weeks off work, and even when I did go back I struggled for quite some time.  It was many months before I felt my vocabulary was back and I felt like my thinking was laboured and I was exhausted all the time.

How did I feel?  Terrified, it was a really horrible experience, and I was very lonely too.  I thought I might not be able to carry on working, and that I would never get better.  I was also worried I would lose my friends because my behaviour was so unpredictable and peculiar.  Still, I try to be positive about these things, and I think it perhaps gave me some understanding and insight into what it must be like for older people with dementia or anyone with an acquired brain injury.  Perhaps it has made me more patient, and now if I see someone doing something odd in the street I consider that they may not mean to be demanding or rude, perhaps they too have had an injury which has changed how they interact with other people.  I feel very lucky that eventually, after about 18 months I am pretty much back to how I was.  I do still really struggle with the names though, and I still don’t always recognise people when I should.  Perhaps I also have that experience of reaching for a memory that isn’t quite there more than I ever did before, but it doesn’t stop me doing anything.

The human body is an amazing thing, it does have the capacity to heal, but you need to be patient to let it do so.  It is fragile too, and now I think I appreciate that more as well – it makes me mad if I see cyclists or riders without protective headgear – if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet, well, I think the ending would have been very different.

[ Written by - Lucy Marris:  Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]


Sample Answer 3:
Sickness creates one of the most uncomfortable situations in human life and when a family member gets sick, other members also go through great anxiety. So, everybody wants to remain fit, sound and healthy even though it is quite natural to become ill sometimes. There are some diseases that you cannot avoid and asthma, in our country, is one of them. My younger sister has suffered from Asthma for quite a while and she is still not cured perfectly. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to let me talk about this topic.
Asthma is a respiratory disorder. When it attacks, the victims have difficulty in breathing. Often they have shortness of breath. Sometimes they become breathless and feel a pressure on the chest. It happens mostly for the inflammation inside the bronchial tubes. But the symptoms are not the same for everyone and may vary from person. Some of the asthma patients get it from allergy while the remaining may have it as non-allergic form. When it is allergic, it may be triggered by any common factors or sources that cause allergy. For the non-allergic asthmas, it can attack at any time without any prior notice.

Jessica, my younger is 14 now and have occupied all the features of my mom. Mom is allergic. She cannot endure dust and other usual causes for allergy. Similarly, Jessica also owned such physical features from our mother. When she was 10, she was attacked with asthma for the first time. She felt trouble in her breathing and said that she was also having pressure on her chest. When she was taken to a doctor, initially it was diagnosed as asthma. Later, she was prescribed some tests to make it confirmed. Finally, the test reports described it as allergic asthma and she should be careful about this. The doctor also opined that she got this genetically and might be it from her mother. It was her first attack and an early warning of the health disorder. Hence, she should remain highly careful about the issue.     

Asthma is mostly a respiratory disorder and may deteriorate health to the largest extent if not taken care of in the right way. Besides, like the symptoms, the treatment is not also the same for everyone. The doctor initially prescribed some medications to relieve. Further, he also suggested remain away from the allergy-triggering elements. Usually, it is hard to prevent asthma in mature age and if the symptoms are not shown early. But Jessica is lucky in some aspects. It is expected that asthma will be under control when she is completely matured. But she needs to be careful about the issue. Regularly, she is to take medications whenever she is attacked. The medicines help to relieve the attack and makes the breathing easier. She also carries an inhaler with her always and uses it whenever needed.

Jessica is still a young girl. Like all the other girls of her age, she loves to play outside in the garden. But after the asthma attack, she is not able to continue her daily tasks smoothly. She used to care for the flower plants in the garden in the evening but now she is unable to do that fearing another asthma attack from the outside dust. She is highly careful and even avoids foods that may cause allergy. I feel sad when I see her in the situation of breathlessness. Either she needs to take inhaler if she is outside of the home or she takes medicines if she is at home. Unfortunately, my mom and Jessica share the same problem. Though mom has controlled her allergy to a notable level and does not get attacked, Jessica is still immature to control her asthma. So, I am worried about her indeed.


If you can talk about this cue card, you should be able to answer the following cue card topics as well:

1. Describe a time when you were sick.
2. Talk about an illness you or one of your family members suffered from.
3. Describe a health problem you once had.

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