Definition of the Medical Abbreviation NKA

Why this abbreviation is so important for your care

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If you are seeing your physician at a new patient appointment or are about to undergo surgery, you may be confused by the abbreviation "NKA" or "NKDA" on your medical record. What does this mean, why is it under the allergy section of your chart, and why is this abbreviation to important for your care. 

What Does NKA or NKDA stand for? 

NKA is a medical acronym for "no known allergies." NKA is used in medical records to notate that a patient does not have any known allergies.

NKDA is also commonly used and stands for "no-known drug allergies." 

Why is this Abbreviation So Important in Your Health Care?

It's extremely important that your doctor or any member of your health care team is aware of all your allergies, especially drug or medication allergies, or allergies to medical-related products like latex. The last thing you need is an uncomfortable or serious allergic reaction when it could have been prevented with proper communication. 

What are Some Common Medication Allergies?

While any medication can create an allergic reaction, there are certain medications that are more likely than others. These include:

  • Antibiotics, like penicillin 
  • Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like Aleve (naproxen) or Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Anti-seizure medications, like Lamictal (lamotrigine)
  • Chemotherapies
  • Monoclonal antibody therapies, like Rituxan (rituximab)

If a person is allergic to a medication, their reaction is unique — meaning one person may develop an itchy rash whereas another person may start wheezing or develop swelling of the face.

Still another person may develop anaphylaxis — a serious allergic reaction that involves multiple parts of the body and can be life-threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis commonly includes hives, swelling, and a drop in blood pressure.

In addition, a person's risk of developing an allergy to a medication is higher when the medication is taken frequently — meaning their reaction may worsen or escalate with repeated exposure to the medication.

A person is also more likely to have an allergic reaction if a medication is rubbed on the skin or injected, as opposed to given by mouth. 

What Should I Do If I See NKA or NKDA on My Chart and I Do Have an Allergy?

Be sure and speak up. Medical errors do occur and with the slip of a pen or a miss-type on the computer, you could be listed as having no allergies when you really do. In addition, tell the doctor if ever had any reaction to a medication, even if you do not think it's an allergic reaction. This will ease your mind and give the doctor the opportunity to decide whether that medication is safe for you.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Drug Allergy Overview

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