Glossary of Common Allergy Terms

Allergen: A substance, usually a protein such as pollen, animal dander, food, or medication, which can trigger an allergic reaction

Allergic rhinitis: refers to the sneezing, itching, and mucus production associated with an reaction to allergens in the air such as pollen, dust mites, animals, or molds. May be seasonal or year-round.

Allergies: Exaggerated reaction of the immune system when exposed to certain substances, usually related to the presence of the allergic antibody, IgE

Allergist: Physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergy related problems including allergic rhinitis, asthma, drug and food allergy

Anaphylaxis: Severe, life-threatening allergic reaction which may result in death, requires immediate emergency medical treatment

Angioedema: refers to swelling in the deeper layers of the skin, usually associated with urticaria/ hives

Antibody: A protein in the immune system that reacts to mostly foreign substances in the body

Atopic Dermatitis: A recurring itchy skin rash also called “eczema” that often appears in the first few years of life but can persist in allergic people

Challenge test: A test used to confirm whether a person is allergic to a particular substance, performed under close supervision by a physician.

Epinephrine: also called adrenaline, injectable medication used to treat anaphylaxis by constricting blood vessels

Histamine: Chemical released by immune cells during an allergic reaction, causes swelling and inflammation

Hives: See Urticaria

Immunoglobulin E: Type of antibody involved in most allergic reactions

Immunotherapy: Series of injections that help build up the body’s tolerance to an allergen

RadioAllergosorbent Test (RAST): A blood test that measures the amount of IgE antibody in the blood to a specific allergen

Rhinitis: Swelling, congestion, and increased mucus in the nasal passages, may be due to allergies

Sinusitis: Swelling or infection in one or more of the sinuses, which are air spaces in the skull around the nose and eyes

Urticaria: also known as hives, Itchy wheals on the skin

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