Common Medical Abbreviations and Terms You Should Know

Learning, becoming familiar with, and memorizing medical abbreviations can be extremely helpful for anyone who has a desire to enter a medical-related field. The following abbreviations are an introduction to Medical Abbreviations. These are 250 of the most important, yet basic medical terms used by doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and others in the medical field. These terms will help you to become familiar with introductory medical topics and health conditions, as well as pharmaceutical terms, and other important abbreviations needed for reference.

Keep in mind that some phrases or words have multiple medical abbreviations. Some medical terms may also have two or more abbreviations. Knowing these basic medical terms can be helpful in a variety of career paths. Some of these careers include, but are limited to doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and medical assistant or transcriptionist.

Medical Abbreviations

In medicine, there are hundreds of complicated technical terms. Some of them are spelled in such a difficult and strange way that it’s almost impossible to write them correctly from the first try; some aren’t even English. In addition, many terms are used so often that there just has to be a way to find a shortened way of writing them. These are just a few of the reasons why there are so many medical abbreviations.

Medical abbreviations save doctors a lot of their valuable time. Now that they only have to write a couple of letters instead of full long words, they can write prescriptions, complete patient charts, and generally communicate about topics related to medicine much faster. For example, instead of writing “No known drug allergies”, a doctor only needs to write NKDA to be understood by his colleagues.

It’s very important to know at least the most common medical abbreviations because if you don’t, you won’t be able to understand a prescription that a doctor gives you. This can lead to you taking the wrong amount of medicine, at the wrong time, too often or not often enough, and this might have tragic consequences.

Common Medical Abbreviations

Medical Abbreviations for Eating and Drinking, Dietary needs, and Oral Medication

  1. A/C (Before Meals)
  2. B I D (Twice Daily)
  3. N P O (No food or drink by mouth)
  4. P O (By mouth or orally)
  5. Once (Once Daily)
  6. P C (After Meals)
  7. P C / H S (After Meals and at Bedtime)
  8. Q 2 H ( Every two hours)
  9. 1 x Day (One time per day)
  10. 2 x Day (Two times per day)
  11. 3 x Day (Three times per day)
  12. 4 x Day (Four times per day)
  13. 5xDay (Five times per day)
  14. Q I D (Four times daily)
  15. T I D (Three times daily)
  16. B I D (Two times daily)
  17. Q A M (Once in the morning time)
  18. Q P M (Once in the evening time)
  19. U D (As directed by physician)
  20. H S (bedtime/ before sleep)
  21. A A D (Average American Diet)
  22. M U F A (Monounsaturated Fatty Acid)
  23. B M I (Body Mass Index)
  24. B D (Background Diet)
  25. 1 x (Only One Time)

Medical Abbreviations for Conditions, Disparities, Diseases, and Illnesses

  1. P C O S ( Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  2. C V D (Cardiovascular Disease)
  3. A D D (Attention Deficit Disorder)
  4. A D H D (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder)
  5. A I D S (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  6. A F R (Acute Renal Failure)
  7. C H F (Congestive Heart Failure)
  8. A K A (Above the Knee Amputation)
  9. A L S (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
  10. B S O (Bilateral Salpingo)
  11. B P D (Borderline Personality Disorder)
  12. D I D (Dissociative identity disorder)
  13. C a (Cancer)
  14. C T (Chemotherapy)
  15. C V A (Cerebrovascular Accident – also known as a Stroke)
  16. H P V (human papillomavirus)
  17. C O P D (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  18. D M (Diabetes Mellitus- also known as diabetes)
  19. A L L ( Acute lymphoblastic leukemia)
  20. H A P E (High Altitude Pulmonary Adema)
  21. H P S (Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome)
  22. I B S (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  23. P E (Pulmonary Embolism)
  24. I D D M (Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus)
  25. M D S (myelodysplastic syndrome)
  26. N B C C S (Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome)
  27. S I D S (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  28. T S H (Thyroid-stimulating hormone)
  29. A S C V D ( Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease)
  30. B K A (Below the Knee Amputation)
  31. D V T (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
  32. F X (Fracture or break relating to a bone)
  33. H T N (Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure)
  34. H A (Headache)
  35. J T (joint)
  36. M V P (Mitral Valve Prolapse)
  37. N/V (Nausea or vomiting)
  38. N S R (normal Sinus Rythym of the heart)
  39. L B P (lower back pain- also known as lumbar pain)
  40. R A (rheumatoid arthritis)
  41. S A D (season affective disorder)
  42. T A H (total abdominal hysterectomy)
  43. T H R (total hip replacement)
  44. U T I (Urinary Tract Infection)
  45. U R I (upper respiratory Infection)

Medical Abbreviations for Drugs and Medication

  1. A D R (Adverse Drug Reaction)
  2. A D H (Antidiuretic Hormone)
  3. cap (capsule)
  4. F S H (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
  5. C P A (Continuous Positive Airway)
  6. g (Gram)
  7. g t t (drops)
  8. m g (Milligram)
  9. m l (Milliliter)
  10. K (Potassium)
  11. N a (Sodium – derived from the word Natrium)
  12. tab (tablet or pill)
  13. u t dict (Use as directed)
  14. u (unit)
  15. i u (international units)

Other Miscellaneous Medical Abbreviations

  1. F (Female)
  2. M (Male)
  3. ♂ (sign indicating male)
  4. ♀ (sign indicating female)
  5. O D (Right eye)
  6. O S (Left eye)
  7. O U (both eyes)
  8. B L D (Blood)
  9. C/O (Complaint Of)
  10. C C (Cheif Complaint)
  11. c c (Cubic Centimeters)
  12. C D E (Complete Dental Examination)
  13. B M P (Basic metabolic panel)
  14. A d Iib (At Liberty)
  15. A L E D (Alive No Evidence of Disease)
  16. B M P (Basic Metabolic Panel)
  17. C B C (Complete Blood Count)
  18. Chem Panel (Chemistry Panel)
  19. D/C (Discontinue)
  20. D N C, D&C, or D and C (Dilation and curettage)
  21. D C (Discharge)
  22. D N R (Do not Recessitate)
  23. D T R (Deep Tendon Reflexes)
  24. E T O H (Alchohol)
  25. E C T (Electroconvulsive therapy)
  26. G O M E R (Get out of my emergency room) slang
  27. H & P (History and Physical Examination)
  28. L L Q (left Lower Quadrant)
  29. L U Q (left Upper Quadrant)
  30. N C P (Nursing Care Plan)
  31. P (Pulse)
  32. P T (Physical Therapy)
  33. P T H (Parathyroid Hormone)
  34. P U D (Peptic Ulcer Disease)
  35. R/O (rule out)
  36. S Q (subcutaneous)
  37. T (temperature)
  38. U A (urinalysis)
  39. U L N (Upper limits of normal)
  40. w t (Weight)
  41. X R T (radiotherapy)
  42. I C D (Implantable cardioverter defibrillator)
  43. I M (intramuscular)
  44. I C U (intensive care unit)
  45. I M P (Impression)
  46. V S S (Vital Signs are stable)
  47. I V (in vitro-in the lab)

Here Are Some Helpful Tips on how to successfully Memorize these Medical Abbreviations:

  • Study and review these medical abbreviations every day.
  • Get a partner or friend to help you and review these medical abbreviations with you.
  • Download a study help application on your smartphone or another electronic device
  • Use visual clues and reminders to assist with your memorization.
  • Make up rhymes to connect the terms in your mind.
  • Use or create flashcards. Writing terms can improve memory or abbreviations.
  • Consult with a teacher or professor for additional resources.
  • Search the internet or medical textbooks for additional resources.

Medical AbbreviationsPin

Medical Abbreviations List

Here is the list of commonly used medical abbreviations in English.

  • A&W – alive and well
  • AA – amino acid
  • ABD – abdomen
  • ABG – arterial blood gas
  • ABX – antibiotics
  • AC – before meals
  • AD – right ear
  • Ad lib – at will, as desired
  • ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • ADM – admission, admitted
  • AF – acid-fast
  • AIDS – acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • AL – left ear
  • ALS – advanced life support
  • AU – both ears
  • AXR – abdominal x-ray
  • BAL – blood alcohol level
  • BC – birth control
  • BE – barium enema
  • BID – bis in dies (twice a day)
  • BM – bowel movement
  • BMD – bone mass density
  • BMI – body mass index
  • BMR – basic metabolic rate
  • BMT – bone marrow transplant
  • BP – blood pressure
  • BRP – bathroom privileges
  • Bx – biopsy
  • C – centigrade, celsius
  • C/F – chills, fever
  • C/O – complains of
  • C/S – cesarean section
  • CA – cancer
  • CAB – carotid artery bruit
  • CABG – coronary artery bypass graft
  • CAD – coronary artery disease
  • CAP – capsule
  • CBC – complete blood count
  • CBD – common bile duct
  • CBF – cerebral blood flow
  • CF – cystic fibrosis
  • CFT – complement fixation testing
  • CO2 – carbon dioxide
  • COLD – chronic obstructive lung disease
  • CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • CV – cardiovascular
  • CVA – cerebral vascular accident (stroke)
  • CXR – chest x-ray
  • CHD – congenital heart disease
  • CHF – congestive heart failure
  • D/C – discontinue or discharge
  • DNR – do not resuscitate
  • DO – disorder
  • DOB – date of birth
  • DOT – directly observed therapy
  • DTR – deep tendon reflex
  • DVT – deep venous thrombosis
  • Dx – diagnosis
  • EBL – estimated blood loss
  • EBV – Epstein-Barr virus
  • EC – eye contact
  • ECASA – enteric coated acetylsalicylic acid
  • ECC – emergency cardiac care
  • EDC – estimated date of confinement
  • EDD – estimated delivery date
  • EGA – estimated gestational age
  • EGC – early gastric cancer
  • ER – emergency room
  • F – fahrenheit
  • F/C – fever, chills
  • FAS – fetal alcohol syndrome
  • FB – foreign body
  • FEF – forced expiratory flow
  • FHR – fetal heart rate
  • FL – femur length
  • FM – fetal movement
  • FNA – fine needle aspiration
  • FNF – finger to nose
  • FOBT – fecal occult blood testing
  • FRC – functional residual capacity
  • FROM – free range of motion
  • FSE – fetal scalp electrode
  • FSH – follicle stimulating hormone
  • FT – full term
  • GLT – glucose loading test
  • GSW – gunshot wound
  • GTT – drop-liquid measurement
  • GTT – glucose tolerance test
  • GU – genitourinary
  • GI – gastrointestinal
  • H/O – history of
  • H20 – water
  • HA – headache
  • HA – hemolytic anemia
  • HAV – hepatitis A virus
  • Hb – hemoglobin
  • HBV – hepatitis B virus
  • HC – head circumference
  • HCV – hepatitis C virus
  • HDL – high density lipoprotein
  • HDV – hepatitis D virus
  • HR – heart rate or hour
  • HS – hour of sleep (bedtime)
  • HTN – hypertension
  • I&D – incision and drainage
  • I&O – intake and output
  • IBD – inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS – inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • IBW – ideal body weight
  • ICP – intracranial pressure
  • ICU – intensive care unit
  • ID – infectious diseases
  • IM – intramuscular
  • In vitro – in the laboratory
  • In vivo – in the body
  • IP – inpatient
  • IQ – intelligence quotient
  • IU – international units
  • IUI – intrauterine insemination
  • IUP – intrauterine pregnancy
  • IUPC – intrauterine pressure catheter
  • IV – intravenous
  • IVF – in vitro fertilization
  • IVIG – intravenous immune globulin
  • IVP – intravenous push
  • JCV – JC virus
  • JRA – juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • JVD – jugular venous distension
  • KS – Kaposi sarcoma
  • KUB – kidney, ureter, bladder (x-ray)
  • LAD – leukocyte adhesion deficiency
  • LBP – lower back pain
  • LBW – low birth weight
  • LIH – left inguinal hernia
  • LLL – left lower lobe
  • LLQ – left lower quadrant
  • LOF – loss of fluid
  • LUL – left upper lobe
  • LUQ – left upper quadrant
  • LV – left ventricle
  • MCO – managed care organization
  • MD – muscular dystrophy
  • MDD – maximum daily dose
  • MG – milligram
  • ML – milliliter
  • MR – mental retardation
  • MS – multiple sclerosis
  • MVA – motor vehicle accident
  • N/V – nausea vomiting
  • NKDA – no known drug allergies
  • NPO – nothing by mouth
  • NTG – nitroglycerin
  • NVD – normal vaginal delivery
  • GTT – oral glucose tolerance test
  • O2 – oxygen
  • OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder
  • OCP – oral contraceptive pill
  • OD – right eye
  • ON – optic neuritis
  • OPD – outpatient department
  • OPV – oral polio vaccine
  • OS – left eye
  • OSA – obstructive sleep apnea
  • OTC – over the counter
  • OU – both eyes
  • PA or PT – patient
  • PAP – pulmonary artery pressure
  • PC – after meals
  • PCN – penicillin
  • PCP – primary care physician
  • PD – Parkinson’s disease
  • PE – pulmonary embolism
  • PEEP – positive end expiratory pressure
  • PID – pelvic inflammatory disease
  • PIH – pregnancy induced hypertension
  • PKD – polycystic kidney disease
  • PMS – premenstrual syndrom
  • PNS – peripheral nervous system
  • PNV – pre-natal vitamins
  • PO – per os (by mouth)
  • PRN – as needed
  • PT – physical therapy
  • PTSD – post-tramatic stress disorder
  • q2h – every 2 hours
  • q3h – every 3 hours
  • qam – every morning
  • qd – once a day
  • qh – once every hour
  • qhs – at bedtime
  • qid – four times a day
  • qod – every other day
  • RA – rheumatoid arthritis
  • RA – right atrium
  • RAD – reactive airway disease
  • RBC – red blood cell
  • RDS – respiratory distress syndrome
  • REM – rapid eye movements
  • RF – risk factor
  • RHD – rheumatic heart disease
  • Rx – treatment
  • RXN – reaction
  • S – without
  • S/S – signs and symptoms
  • SAB – spontaneous abortion
  • SBO – small bowel obstruction
  • SBS – shaken baby syndrome
  • SOB – shortness of breath
  • STAT – immediately
  • STD – sexually transmitted disease
  • SX – symptoms
  • T – temperature
  • T&C – type and cross (blood)
  • TAB – tablet
  • TAH – total abdominal hysterectomy
  • TB – tuberculosis
  • TBI – traumatic brain injury
  • TGA – transient global amnesia
  • TIW – three times a week
  • UC – ulcerative colitis
  • UE – upper extremity
  • UO – urine output
  • URI – upper respiratory infection
  • USOH – usual state of health
  • UTI – urinary tract infection
  • VB – vaginal bleeding
  • VS – vital signs
  • VSS – vital signs stable
  • WB – whole blood
  • WBC – white blood cell
  • WNL – within normal limits
  • WT – weight

Medical Abbreviations | Infographics

Medical AbbreviationsPin

Medical AbbreviationsPin

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Richard Velladurai
Richard Velladurai
1 year ago

Some abbreviations are missing from the picture list

James
James
8 months ago

Love it but it’s for my girlfriend

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