Glossary

This glossary is intended for informational purposes only. Please see your health care provider with any questions about your health or your treatment.

 

 

Acute -can refer to sudden or relatively quick onset of condition; short-term or brief condition in contrast to chronic; intense as sometimes refers to severity

 

Albumin – name of a protein in egg whites that can be responsible for an allergic reaction and a term that egg allergic individuals should be able to recognize on a food label

 

Allergic Conjunctivitis – allergic inflammation of the membrane lining the eye

 

Allergic Rhino Conjunctivitis – allergic inflammation of the nose and eyes

Allergic Salute -rubbing the nose, in a upward motion, to relieve nasal itching;chronically rubbing the nose in this manner can leave a crease on the bridge of the nose.

 

Allergic Shiner – “darken circle” under the eye from the swelling of blood vessels due to allergy

 

Allergist -a physician who is a specialist in diagnosing and treating allergy and asthma

 

Allergy -an inappropriate immune response or hypersensitivity to a normally harmless substance (allergen)

 

Allergy Immunotherapy – allergy shots; allergen desensitization; giving by injection small increasing amounts of the allergen to which one is allergic. Note: Conventional immunotherapy builds up over a period of months. With rapid desensitization or RUSH immunotherapy, several months of build-up are accomplished in less than a day — after the patient has taken several medications for a few days prior to the procedure.

 

Anaphylaxis – a severe and life-threatening systemic (whole body) allergic reaction

 

Antibody -immunoglobulin; a protein made by white blood cells that works to protect against something the immune system perceives as harmful

Note: While antibodies can be protective, an antibody produced against a harmless substance or excessive formation of antibodies can make one sick. The antibody associated with allergic reactions is called IgE. Asthma, allergic rhinitis or eczema can result when an allergen causes an antibody (IgE) response.

 

Antigen – a substance than can trigger the immune system to respond with the production of an antibody; an allergen is a type of antigen.

 

Antihistamine -medication that reduces or blocks the effects of histamine, a chemical involved in an allergic reaction

 

Anti-inflammatory medicines – a group of medicines that reduce inflammation and treat asthma/allergy in which inflammation is an underlying cause

 

Asthma -chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs involving an overreaction to a variety of triggers (stimuli) resulting in narrowed and swollen airways along with excessive mucus production.

 

Board certified – certification of a physician in a specialty; particularly well-qualified in a specific medical specialty

 

Bronchi – large airways that carry air from the trachea to the smaller airways of the lungs

 

Bronchial Tubes – breathing tubes or air passages used to carry air in and out of the lungs

 

Bronchioles – small airways in the lungs that branch off the bronchi

 

Broncho-constriction -narrowing of the breathing tubes

 

Broncho-dilators – medication (usually inhaled but can be taken orally) that relaxes the muscles around the bronchial tubes so that air can more easily pass through

 

Broncho-spasm – tightening of the muscles around the bronchial tubes

 

Chronic – long-term condition; on-going; continual

 

Cold urticaria – hives caused by exposure to cold

 

Corticosteroid medications – anti-inflammatory drugs (like the natural hormone of the same name that is produced by the body)

 

Cough suppressant – medication to keep one from coughing by suppressing the cough. Note: Coughing due to asthma is treated with other types of medicines; one type relaxes the muscles around narrowed airways and another type of medicine decreases inflammation.

 

Decongestant – medication to reduce nasal congestion or stuffiness which is available as an oral drug or as an over-the-counter nasal spray. Note: An OTC topical decongestant should NEVER be used more than a few days in a row; consult a physician before using in children.

 

Early Warning Signs – symptoms or less obvious signs that you can learn to recognize in YOU of YOUR child before asthma symptoms start or get severe

 

Eczema – inflammatory condition of the skin which can cause intense itching, crusting, scaling, and/or blisters

 

Epinephrine – commonly referred to as adrenaline; a hormone released by the adrenal gland; it is produced synthetically as a drug and used in treating anaphylaxis

 

Exhale – breathe out

 

Food elimination and challenge – test which can help diagnose food allergy; eliminating a food from the diet for a period of time and observing for symptoms when reintroducing the food. Note: When food allergy symptoms cause breathing problems, hives, or other severe symptoms, challenge should never be done at home but upon advice and under the supervision of a physician.

 

GERD – Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease; in some individuals, it may trigger asthma

 

HayFever – seasonal allergic rhinitis (see Rhinitis)

 

HEPA – air filter which can be found in room air cleaners, in vacuums, or available for whole-house filtration; the letters stand for High Efficiency Particulate Air

 

Histamine – chemical present in the body and released during an allergic reaction; antihistamines work against this potent chemical

 

Hives – a common name for the medical term urticaria

 

ImmunoglobulinE (IgE) – a class of antibody known as the allergic antibody; an antibody known to be responsible for classic allergic reactions

 

 

Inflammation – redness, swelling, pain produced by an immune response. Note: The body responds to a substance that it perceives to be harmful. If that response is to an allergen, it is an inappropriate response on the part of the immune system.

 

Inhale – breathe in

 

Leukotriene – a chemical mediator of allergic inflammation; a chemical in the body that can lead to inflammatory reactions

 

Leukotriene modifier – a medicine that can interfere with the action of or block the production of leukotrienes; an oral medicine used to treat allergic inflammation

 

Mucus – phlegm or sputum; fluid secreted by mucous membranes typically referring to those in nose or lungs

 

Nasal Irrigation – using saline (a solution of salt water) to wash inside the nose and paranasal sinuses

 

Nebulizer -machine which turns a liquid into a fine mist for breathing into the lungs; sometimes referred to as an aerosol machine or atomizer

 

Nocturnal Asthma – asthma occurring at night

 

Ocular -referring to the eye

 

Oral Allergy Syndrome – a form of contact urticaria (hives); itching of the lips, tongue, palate, and throat after eating certain (usually raw) fruits and vegetables. It is associated with pollen allergy. This syndrome resolves rapidly and is not to be confused with serious systemic food reactions that include throat tightness and swelling of the lips and tongue requiring epinephrine immediately and emergency medical care.

 

Ovalbumin -name of a protein in egg whites that can be responsible for an allergic reaction and a term that egg allergic individuals should be able to recognize on a food label

 

Peak Flow Meter – A hand-held device with a meter to measure how fast one can breathe air out of the large airways

 

Pollen -the male element in the fertilization of plants; allergen

 

Prick Test – skin test for allergen sensitivity; skin test in which allergen is placed on the skin prior to “pricking” with a needle

 

Pulmonary Function Test – breathing test to determine how well air is moving in and out of the lungs

 

Quick-relief medicine when referring to asthma care -an inhaled short-acting bronchodilator in the beta 2-agonist category which gives relief from bronchospasm within minutes of inhalation; the effects typically last 4-6 hours

 

RAST – a blood test which detects antibodies to a specific allergen; an abbreviation for Radio Allergo Sorbent Test which is a trademark of the company originating the test

 

Rhinitis inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the nose — can also involve sinuses and ears. Allergic rhinitis is caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, animal dander, etc.

 

Rhinitis Medicamentosa – is the medical term for the rebound effect that occurs with chronic use of an over-the-counter topical decongestant nasal spray. An OTC topical decongestant spray should not be used more than a few days in a row since chronic use causes nasal stuffiness that the user is trying to clear.

 

Scratch Test – skin test for allergen sensitivity; skin test in which the skin is lightly scratched prior to placing an allergen on the scratched area

 

Side effects -an unintended or unwanted effect of a drug

 

Sinusitis – inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses which are hollow spaces (air cavities) within the bones of the face and skull

 

Spores – reproductive cells of certain organisms, including mold

 

Theophylline -a bronchodilator medicine (a number of brands) which relaxes the muscles around the airways in the lungs making it easier for air to move in and out; Theophylline may also have mild anti-inflammatory effects

 

Trachea -windpipe; refers to the tube that connects the throat to the bronchial tubes

 

Trigger – a substance, environmental condition, or circumstance that leads to asthma, an allergic reaction, or an irritation

 

Urticaria – a condition in which the skin develops itching with white raised places surrounded by a red inflamed area; also known as hives;can be an allergic reaction but there are other causes

 

Wheezing – a whistling sound, usually heard when breathing out, caused by air trying to pass through narrowed airways; can be a sign of asthma. Note: One can have asthma without wheezing and one can wheeze without having asthma.

 

Xopenex -a quick-acting bronchocilator for relieving asthma symptoms.

 

Xolair -sometimes referred to as anti-IgE; an injected potential treatment for diseases associated with the allergic process as it decreases the allergic antibody (IgE); currently used in the treatment of moderate or severe allergic asthma.

 

Xyzal -an antihistamine available by prescription (levocetirizine).

 

Zyrtec – an antihistamine (cetirizine) available over-the-counter. Cetirizine used to be only available by prescription.