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Allergy and Asthma in the
Southwestern United States

 

Information for patients with allergy and related problems
in the Southwest

GLOSSARY

 Allergens -  Proteins or glycoproteins capable of causing an allergic reaction as in allergic rhinitis or asthma, usually produced by pollen, mold spores, house dust mites, furry pets and cockroaches. 

 Allergic Rhinitis -   Also known as hay fever.  Usual symptoms include nasal stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing, itching in the nose and throat,  itchy, watery red eyes, fatigue, headache.  Symptoms usually vary seasonally but can be present perennially when allergic to allergens year-round.  Complications: sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma symptoms.

 Anaphylaxis - A severe allergic reaction that can include hives, swelling in the throat, difficulty breathing, wheezing, fainting and loss of blood pressure.  It may be caused by allergy to medications, foods or insect stings, and can have no obvious cause (idiopathic).  For more information see article on AAAAI website

Antibodies
- Proteins produced by an immune system cell in the body, capable of combining specifically with a substance foreign to the body such as an allergen or infectious agent.
 
 Antihistamines - Drugs that block the effects of histamine on blood vessels, sensory nerves, and glands that secrete mucus. Antihistamines used for allergy are in the H1 class of antihistamines, as distinct from H2 antihistamines, which block stomach acid secretion.  

 Anti-inflammatory drugs - When used for asthma, these drugs reduce inflammation in the airways by controlling the effects of cells such as lymphocytes and eosinophils that cause inflammation.  Their main benefit is reduction of irritability of the lungs and improvement of lung function. 

 Asthma -   Symptoms including cough, chest tightness, and wheezing, caused mainly by inflammation and excessive irritability of bronchi (main air passages in the lung).  Asthma symptoms may be provoked by allergens (usually inhaled), virus infection, exercise, cold air and airborne pollutants.  They tend to be worse at night.

Bronchodilator drugs - Drugs that open up constricted airways by relaxing smooth muscle spasm in bronchial walls.

Cytokines - Substances produced during an allergic and other inflammatory reactions that modify the functions of cells to amplify the inflammation. 

Eosinophil - An inflammatory cell in the blood that is attracted to the site of allergic reactions and participates in allergic inflammation.

Hay Fever - allergic rhinitis. 

Histamine - Substance released from mast cells during an allergic reaction.  It causes itching, sneezing,  increased mucous production, and nasal congestion.  Antihistamine drugs help to block the effects of histamine. 

IgE antibody - A type of antibody that is produced when one is exposed to an allergen.  This type of antibody takes part in allergic inflammation.  

Leukotrienes - Substances produced by mast cells during an allergic reaction.  They contribute to most of the features of allergic reactions and cause bronchial constriction in asthma 

Lymphocyte - A cell found in the blood and in lymphoid organs such as lymph nodes, tonsil and spleen that plays a central role in the functioning of the immune system.

Mast cell - A specialized cell found in tissues. It causes allergic reactions when activated by allergens that bind to IgE antibodies on the cell surface. Activation of the cell is followed by release of histamine and other substances that cause symptoms of allergy. 

Pollen - Microscopic particles from the male flower that can fertilize the female flower to produce seed.  Allergenic pollen is usually from wind-pollinated plants. 

Sinusitis
- Infection in the cavities of facial bones.  Symptoms include pressure or pain around or below the eyes, persistent yellow nasal discharge, mucus drainage in the throat, and nasal stuffiness.

Urticaria - Hives.  A rash consisting of irregularly shaped itchy wheals that come and go within a 24 hour period.  Chronic urticaria is urticaria that persists for 3 or more months continuously, usually with no obvious external cause, and sometimes found to be due to an autoimmune process in the body.


 

Disclaimer:   This site is for educational purposes only.  Any information that you have found in this web site is not intended to replace medical care or advice given to you by your own physicians. You should consider consulting your local medical library and other web sites for additional information. 

Comments and suggestions welcome!   Email: schumach@u.arizona.edu
Content Owner:  Michael J. Schumacher, MB, FRACP, The University of Arizona
Updated 8/2011