Glossary / Definitions
- ACTION PLAN
- A written plan prepared by a physician for an asthma patient giving details about the treatment plan and information on "what to do" when symptoms occur.
Also called "Management Plan".
- A hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stressful situations.
In synthetic form, it is known as "epinephrine".
- A device that temporarily holds asthma medication allowing the user to take two or three breaths from one inhaler dose.
- Any substance capable of causing an allergic reaction e.g., pollens, moulds, animal dander, house dust mites, foods, insect stings, medications, natural latex, etc.
- ALLERGIC MARCH
- A particular pattern and progression of allergic conditions that is seen in some allergic children.
- A medical doctor who has first specialized in Internal Medicine and then has obtained the additional subspecialty training required to qualify as a specialist in allergy and immunology.
- Air sacs located at the end of the bronchioles where oxygen is absorbed into the blood-stream and carbon dioxide is removed.
- A severe potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.
- The structure of an organism.
- ANESTHETIC AGENTS
- Medications used during surgery or other medical procedures to reduce sensitivity to pain and/or to induce unconsciousness.
- Proteins formed by white blood cells in response to foreign particles entering the body.
- A drug that blocks the effects of histamine, which is one of the substances released into the tissues during an allergic reaction.
- ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS
- Medications that reduce inflammation in the airways; also known as "preventers".
- ASA (acetylsalicylic acid)
- Ingredient closely related to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat pain, fever and joint inflammation, e.g., Aspirin - some asthmatics are sensitive to this class of medications.
- A common chronic condition affecting the lungs, characterized by inflammation, constriction of the muscles surrounding the airways and excess mucus production.
- ATOPIC DERMATITIS
- A skin condition occurring as a result of a reaction to a substance to which the person is sensitive; also called allergic eczema.
- A "user-friendly" pre-loaded syringe used to administer epinephrine.
- Allergic reaction occurring in two phases or parts.
- Large air passages leading to the lungs.
- One of the thousands of small airways forming tree-like networks inside each lung.
- Medications that relax the smooth muscles in constricted airways and provide temporary relief of asthma symptoms; also known as "relievers".
- Tightening of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tubes; one of the main features of an asthma attack.
- CELIAC DISEASE
- A condition in which there is a life-long intolerance to the gluten found in wheat and other grains.
It is not an allergy.
- Present for a long time or frequently recurring.
- A tightening of the muscles around the outside of the airways that have gone into spasm.
- CONTROLLER MEDICATIONS
- Anti-inflammatory medications that work to prevent and reduce inflammation (redness and swelling) inside the air passages of the lungs; also known as "preventers".
- Anti-inflammatory medications important in the prevention of asthma and other conditions, and available in several forms, e.g., inhaled, topical, oral and by injection.
The inhaled form is the preferred first-line asthma therapy in adults and children.
See also CONTROLLER MEDICATIONS.
- Inadvertent transfer of an allergen from one product to another; can occur during food manufacturing or preparation at home or in restaurants.
- DEVICES (ASTHMA)
- Mechanisms used to help deliver asthma medication (e.g., metered dose inhalers, aerochambers).
- DRUG ALLERGY
- An adverse reaction to a medication that results from allergy.
- A common chronic skin condition that causes itchy, red, inflamed and scaly skin.
It is often found in people with other allergic conditions.
- ELIMINATION DIET
- Removing a food from the diet for a period of time, then gradually re-introducing it to determine if it causes an allergic reaction; not to be done if anaphylaxis is suspected.
- A synthetic version of the hormone adrenalin; used in the treatment of anaphylaxis and life-threatening asthma attacks.
- EXERCISE-INDUCED BRONCHOSPASM
- Constriction of the airways that is triggered by physical activity.
This can result in shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or chest tightness.
- FALSE POSITIVE SKIN TEST
- A positive skin test result in a person who does not experience clinical manifestations or reactions when exposed to the allergen.
- FOOD INTOLERANCE
- An adverse reaction to food that does not involve allergy; e.g., lactose intolerance is an inability to digest the lactose (sugar) in milk.
- GENETIC TENDENCY
- The potential for the development of certain conditions due to inherited genetic factors; allergies are more prevalent in some families than others.
- A chemical released by the mast cells during an allergic reaction (causes symptoms like itching, swelling, sneezing).
- Itchy, white bumps on the skin; a common symptom of allergic reaction (urticaria).
- IDIOPATHIC REACTION
- A reaction that results from an unknown cause.
- IgE ANTIBODIES (Immunoglobulin E)
- An antibody that is produced in response to the presence of an allergen in an allergic individual.
- IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Infection-fighting part of the body; in allergic individuals, harmless substances trigger the immune system to "fight".
- IMMUNOCAP TEST
- A blood test used to measure the level of specific IgE antibodies produced in response to allergens; an alternative to skin testing; can be helpful in selecting patients for food challenges.
- A series of desensitizing injections (allergy shots) prescribed by an allergist that may be used to protect against allergy - extremely small amounts of an allergen, such as stinging insect venom, are gradually administered in increasing dosages until a tolerance is developed - not available for all allergens.
- Redness or swelling in tissues due to injury or infection; usually present in the nose, lungs or skin in an allergic reaction.
- Substances that irritate the nose, throat or airways (e.g., paint, gasoline fumes, smoke, air pollution); can trigger symptoms of asthma or rhinitis.
- LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
- The inability of the digestive system to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.
It is not an allergy.
- Natural rubber latex is a substance that comes from the sap of the rubber tree and used in thousands of manufactured products.
- LEUKOTRIENE INHIBITORS
- Preventative asthma medications in tablet form used to control inflammation.
Used as an additional treatment for some patients.
- LOCAL REACTION
- A reaction occurring at the immediate site of an allergic exposure, e.g., an insect sting that results in swelling and redness only near the site of the sting.
- MAST CELLS
- Special cells in the mucosal tissue that release the chemicals associated with an allergic reaction (found in the lining of the nose, lungs, skin, and intestinal tract).
- METERED DOSE INHALER (MDI)
- A small easy-to-use device that turns medication into a mist.
It is usually sprayed directly into the mouth; also called an inhaler or puffer.
- A secretion produced by the body that covers and lubricates the inner surfaces of the respiratory and digestive tract (where allergic reactions start).
- NATURAL RUBBER LATEX
- See LATEX.
- Inhalation of asthma medications that have been converted into a fine mist, using a compressor and a mask that fits over the nose and mouth, or a mouthpiece.
- ORAL ALLERGY SYNDROME
- An allergic condition sometimes found in people allergic to tree pollens who experience symptoms when eating certain fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts; affects the lips, mouth and throat.
- ORAL FOOD CHALLENGE
- A method of confirming or ruling out a suspected food allergy by feeding the patient, under an allergist's supervision, small but increasing amounts of a suspect food.
- OXYGEN SATURATION
- A method of measuring the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
- PEAK FLOW METER
- A small blowing device consisting of a mouthpiece and a spring gauge.
It is used to measure the force of the air being breathed out and indicates whether or not the airways are constricted.
During an asthma flare-up the meter readings drop.
- A written plan to follow in case of an emergency; useful tool for schools, daycares, summer camps, etc.
- PULMONARY FUNCTION TEST
- A test that measures the degree of airway obstruction.
- RELIEVER MEDICATIONS
- These are bronchodilators, also known as "rescue" medications.
They help open the airways during an asthma attack.
They should work quickly and be effective for 3-12 hours.
These medications are used on a short-term basis.
Over-use may indicate that asthma is out of control.
- RADIOGRAPHIC CONTRAST MEDIA
- A substance opaque to X-rays that is used to visualize the structure and function of internal organs.
- RAST TEST (radioallergosorbent test)
- A blood test used to detect allergies; sometimes used instead of skin testing.
- RHINITIS, ALLERGIC
- An inflammation of the nasal passages which can cause swelling, sneezing, itching, a runny nose and nasal congestion; sometimes referred to as "hay fever".
- An allergic response to an allergen that results in specific IgE antibodies being produced whenever an exposure occurs.
- A frequently used food additive and preservative that is used to prevent foods from spoiling.
- SYSTEMIC REACTION
- An allergic reaction that affects the whole body or body system, as opposed to a local reaction that is confined to the immediate area of exposure.
- Factors that can provoke allergic reactions or asthma episodes, including allergens and irritants.
- Hives, can be a symptom of allergy but also may be due to many other causes that not always identifiable.
- A group of stinging insects that includes the yellow jacket, yellow hornet, white-faced hornet and wasp.
- VIRAL INFECTIONS
- Infections caused by a virus, such as a cold; they are frequent triggers of asthma flare-ups in young children.