Swedes Fear “Magsjuka”, The Common Stomach Flu

Fear stomach flu magsjuka - How to be Swedish

No one wants to be ill. Including Swedes. But there is one illness they particularly try to avoid, “magsjuka“, the stomach flu.

What happens when you have magsjuka

It’s when the content of your digestive system splits up in two parties. One leaving your body the way it entered it. The other party taking the backdoor. Both seem to be in a hurry. Which makes you hurry to the bathroom, and stay there for a while until you can return to your bed, drink tea and continue watching streamed movies from the internet.

Most Swedes have it during the autumn/winter season. Even I had it once. And I can tell you – it was a blast.

What happens to you have stomach flu in Sweden

It’s not only unpleasant clinical condition (for 1-3 days) It is also a bad thing to have because people around you will treat and avoid you like a zombie.

Book about Sweden - How to be Swedish

In Sweden you often hear the word magsjuka in connection with the following words…

  • … don’t go to work!
  • … äckligt (disgusting)
  • … handsprit (hand sanitizer)
  • … where is the toilet?

Well maybe not the last point, since people who have magsjuka and move around in the public usually don’t admit they have it.

How to create space in Swedish public transport

Have some fun, go on public transport during rush hour. Pretend calling a friend and say loud and clearly “My doctor just told me I have magsjuka”. Then, enjoy the reactions of the people around you and pick your favorite seat.


So, dear new-Swede, be aware of magsjuka, use plenty of handsprit and hold your breath as long as someone stands closer than an arm length in front of you.



For more ways to Swedishize yourself, read the book: How to be Swedish – A Quick Guide to Swedishness – in 55 Steps, here on Amazon

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