Prefix denoting absence of; lacking, e.g. alactasia is absence or deficiency of
the enzyme lactase.
A mite or tick.
Common medication for blood pressure, which might cause urticaria and chronic cough.
See Food Additive.
Any substance used in conjunction with another to enhance its activity. Aluminium
salts are used as adjuvants in the preparation of DPT vaccines.
A drug used to treat anaphylaxis. (It is very similar to the hormone called adrenaline
that is produced naturally in our bodies and is responsible for feelings of excitement
and stimulation). Also known as Epinephrine in the USA.
Allergen that is suspended in the air and breathed into respiratory tract, where
it sets up an allergic reaction.
Any substance to which a person is allergic (for example, pollen, house dust mite
droppings, animal dander, peanuts).
A predisposition to trigger allergies or cause allergic sensitisation.
Darkening of skin around eyes that occurs in allergy sufferers.
Specialist clinic to assess and carry out diagnostic allergy tests on GP referral.
A pattern that evolves as one allergic condition slowly progresses into another
as the person grows up.
Alternative Medicine (complementary, fringe medicine)
The various systems of 'healing' including homeopathy, herbal remedies, hypnosis
and faith healing, that are not regarded as part of orthodox treatment by the medical
A reaction similar in presentation to anaphylaxis; however, the cause is not IgE-mediated
hypersensitivity. Example: Generalized hives due to direct release of histamine
from mast cells by morphine.
A severe allergic reaction with swelling, breathing problems and shock.
Failure of lymphocytes that have been primed by an antigen to respond on second
contact with the antigen
A loss of the sense of smell.
Similar to hives in that swelling of the skin occurs, but angioedema affects the
deeper, subcutaneous layer of the skin and the swollen areas are not itchy. It usually
affects the face, genitalia, hands & feet.
Proteins that are produced by our immune system in order to protect our body from
'intruders' such as bacteria and viruses. Immunoglobulin E is the antibody involved
in allergic reactions.
Medicines that are used to treat allergic reactions. They work by blocking the effect
of histamine. Available as liquids, tablets and nasal sprays.
Nose and eye drops, inhalers and capsules that help prevent allergy. Based on chromoglycate,
which is derived from a Middle Eastern plant call Khellin.
Nose sprays, Inhalers and Creams that contain steroids based on Beclomethasone.
See Preventers and Corticosteroids.
A genus of fungi, which can cause infection or allergy of the respiratory system
in man (Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis).
A disease in which the airways (the breathing tubes taking air in and out of the
lungs) become inflamed and swollen, making breathing difficult. In many cases it
is caused by an allergy.
A predisposition to develop allergy, which may remain latent until clinical allergy
develops. Diagnosed by having at least 1 positive skin prick test response or personal
or first degree family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever.
Wasting away of a normally developed organ or tissue.
One of the growing number of otherwise unrelated disorders now suspected of being
caused by the inflammation and destruction of tissues by the body's own antibodies
(autoantibodies). These disorders include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), rheumatic
fever, and several forms of Thyroid dysfunction including Hashimoto's disease.
A type of lymphocyte that produces antibodies in the humoral arm of the immune system.
BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin)
A strain of tubercle bacillus that has lost the power to cause tuberculosis but
retaining its antigenicity; it is therefore used to prepare a vaccine against the
Describes a tumour that does not invade or destroy the tissue in which it originates
Drugs used to relax the bronchial airways, but it also increases heart rate and
blood pressure. Bronchodilator medications are beta-agonists.
The small airways that carry air into and out of the lungs. In people with asthma
they become inflamed, narrowed, contracted, and sticky with mucus.
A medicine based on adrenaline that is used to treat asthma, such as Salbutamol,
used in relievers.
The sudden, involuntary contraction of the smooth muscle of the bronchi, as occurs
A corticosteroid drug used as a nasal spray to treat hay fever or as an inhalant
for asthma. It is also administered as a cream or ointment to treat eczema.
A milk protein; casein is precipitated out of milk in acid conditions; it is the
principal protein of cheese.
A factor associated with the definitive onset of an illness. An example of a causal
agent is the bacteria causing a specific infection. The relationship is more direct
than in the case of a risk factor, and in general the specific
ill health will only occur if the causal agent is present. Causal agent is often
confused with risk factor.
An event accomplished with the assistance of certain cells.
An arm of the specific immune system that defends the body by the ability of T cells
to regulate antibody production and to kill invading organisms.
Swelling (oedema) of the conjunctiva.
Movement of a cell or organism to the stimulus of a gradient of chemical concentration.
Chinese herbal treatment
A form of traditional Chinese medicine that is helpful for some people with eczema.
An inflammatory disease of the intestine, possibly caused by a delayed allergic
reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.
An organism that lives in close association with another of a different species
without either harming or benefiting it. For example, some microorganisms living
in the gut obtain both food and a suitable habitat but neither harm nor benefit
A substance in the blood, consisting of a group of nine different fractions, that
aids the body's defences when antibodies combine with invading antigens. Complement
is involved in the breaking up (lysis) of foreign cells.
Inflammation of the conjunctiva (the delicate outer lining of the eyeball).
A type of eczema that occurs when the skin reacts to a substance that comes into
direct contact with it. The reaction usually takes 24 hours to develop.
A steroid medicine that is used to treat or prevent allergic reactions by reducing
inflammation. Used in preventer medicines for people with asthma and in creams to
treat eczema. Severe cases may need to be treated orally with corticosteroid tablets.
The interaction of an antigen with an antibody formed against a different antigen
with which the first antigen shares identical or closely related properties
CT (Computerized Tomography)
A development of diagnostic radiology for the examination of the
soft tissues of the body. For example, in the sinuses it can be used to diagnose
infection or polyps. The technique involves recording 'slices' of the body with
an X-Ray scanner (CT scanner); these records are then integrated by computer to
give a cross-sectional image.
White blood cells, such as cytotoxic T cells, that are able to release potent chemicals
to kill infected cells. They can also attack organ transplant
Animal dander is the tiny particles of skin that are shed by animals such as cats
and dogs. These are a major cause of allergies such as asthma and eczema. All furry
animals shed dander including hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, mice, rabbits
Medicines that help to relieve the blocked nose associated with allergies such as
hay fever and perennial allergic rhinitis. Available as tablets and nasal sprays
based on Ephedrine. They relieve congestion by causing vascular constriction
A type of hypersensitivity that is mediated by T cells, e.g., allergic contact dermatitis.
Gell and Coombs Type 1V Reaction
Crease seen under eyelid in allergy sufferer.
Another name for eczema which includes Atopic Dermatitis and Contact Dermatitis.
A red, raised wheal that develops if the skin is firmly stroked. Commonly seen in
people with Urticaria.
A type of house dust mite. Most common cause of asthma in the UK & NZ
A fungus belonging to any one of the genera (Microsporum, Trichophyton, and Epidermophyton)
that can feed on keratin and cause ringworm (tinea)
Any disease of the skin, particularly one without inflammation
A large group of insects, including mosquitoes, gnats and houseflies, that possess
a single pair of wings.
DBPC (Double-blind Placebo-controlled)
Test in which neither the physician nor the patient knows whether a placebo (dummy)
is being administered or a drug or specific food is being administered.
A combined vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus.
Microscopic creatures that live off human dead skin and are a common source of allergy.
Laboured or difficult breathing.
A group of skin conditions characterised by dry, red, flaky, itchy skin. The most
common form of eczema is allergic or Atopic Eczema (also called Infantile Eczema
or Atopic Dermatitis).
Enzyme-linked Immunoassay, A technique used to detect antigen or antibody.
Special moisturisers – available as bath oils, creams and ointments –
that are used to help prevent eczema and hydrate the skin. Usually contain Liquid
Paraffin, Cetomacrogol and Emulsifying Wax.
A poison generally harmful to all body tissues contained within certain Gram-negative
bacteria and released only when the bacterial cell is broken down or disintegrates.
Method of labeling all food additives in the European Union. For example, E102 is
the food colourant Tartrazine.
White blood cells containing chemical filled granules that when released kill parasites.
Also, eosinophils found in the blood or mucous secretions indicates the presence
A prefix denoting: 1. Good, well or easy 2. Normal E.g. euthyroid – having
a thyroid gland that functions normally.
The destruction and removal of the surface of the skin or the covering of an organ
An occupational lung disease caused by an allergy to fungal spores that grow in
inadequately dried stored hay, straw or grain. Also known as Allergic Alveolitis.
A diet that purports to treat many illnesses by the elimination of artificial food
colouring, preservatives and salicylates from the diet. It has been recommended
for the treatment of hyperactivity syndrome, but is of unproven value.
Chemical added to food to enhance flavour, colour and prevent spoiling, but which
might cause adverse reaction. Example is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). See E-numbers.
Fear that a food will cause an adverse reaction.
Food intolerance or food sensitivity
A sensitivity or bad reaction to certain foods that does not involve the immune
system so is not an allergy. Examples are Lactose and Caffeine Intolerance.
Reaction to a poison contained in a food.
Test carried out in hospital to identify suspected food allergens by giving traces
of food concealed in capsules or broth. Open Food Challenge is when the food is
FEV1: Forced Expiratory Volume
The speed with which air is exhaled during the first second in a pulmonary function
A condition in which a patient complains of symptoms for which no physical cause
can be found. Such a condition is frequently an indication of a psychological disorder.
Compare Organic disorder.
FVC Forced Vital Capacity
The amount of air that can be forced from the lungs over 14 to 20 seconds.
Gastro esophageal reflux: GER
The backward flow of gastric juices from the stomach into the esophagus.
Gastro-0esophageal reflux disease (GORD)
The syndrome caused by abnormal gastro-oesophageal reflux, which include symptoms
of heartburn and regurgitation.
Denoting a drug name that is not protected by a trademark.
Low-grade eardrum inflammation associated with fluid in middle ear cavity.
See Coeliac Disease.
A flanged metal or plastic tube that is inserted in the eardrum in cases of glue
ear. It allows air to enter the middle ear, bypassing the patient's non-functioning
The coughing up of blood.
An allergy caused by breathing in pollen and by pollen getting into the eyes. Affects
the delicate lining of the nose and eyes. Also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis.
A genus of Gram-negative bacteria. The species H. pylori (formerly classified as
Campylobacter pylori) is found in the stomach. It is associated with duodenal ulcer.
HEPA filters: High Efficiency particulate air filters
Filters capable of removing 0.3-micron diameter with an efficiency of at least 99.97%.
An enzyme widely distributed in the body, which is responsible for the inactivation
A natural chemical that is released by Mast Cells in the body initiating an allergic
reaction which leads to inflammation in affected parts of the body.
An amino acid from which histamine is derived.
Another name for urticaria.
A system of medicine based on the theory that 'like cures like'. The patient is
treated with extremely small quantities of drugs that are themselves capable of
producing symptoms of the particular disease.
House dust mite
A tiny 0.5mm long spider-like insect that inhabits carpets, bedding and soft furnishings.
It eats human skin flakes and thrives in humid environments. Their droppings cause
allergies such as Asthma, Eczema and Rhinitis.
The arm of the specific immune system that protects the body by producing antibodies.
Exaggerated reactions of the immune system. Gell and Coombs described 4 types: Type
I, allergy; Type II, cytotoxic reactions (organ transplantation rejection); Type
III, immune complex (serum sickness); and Type IV, delayed-type hypersensitivity
Breathing at an abnormally rapid rate at rest, this causes a reduction in carbon
dioxide concentration in arterial blood, leading to dizziness, tingling (paraesthesia)
in the lips, limbs and tightness across the chest. If continued hyperventilation
can cause loss of consciousness. This sequence of events occurs in the Hyperventilation
Syndrome (HVS), which has been estimated to contribute to 10% of outpatient referrals
A substance which is unlikely to provoke an allergy. Used to describe milk formula,
foods medication or creams.
Any of a group of disorders, usually hereditary, in which there is noninflammatory
scaling of the skin.
Denoting a disease or condition the cause of which is not known or that arise spontaneously.
An unusual or unexpected sensitivity exhibited by an individual to a particular
drug or food.
An antibody found in tears, saliva, and mucus, it protects the entrances of the
E-class immunoglobulin (antibody). The type of immunoglobin that triggers release
of Histamine from Mast Cells and sets off an acute allergic reaction.
An antibody that reaches peak levels after IgM and sustains the body's defense.
The lowest of the three portions of the small intestines.
Immediate hypersensitivity: Allergy
An IgE-mediated response of the immune system. Gell and Coombs Type 1.
Protected against a particular infection by the presence of specific antibodies
against the organisms concerned.
A cluster of interlocking antibodies and antigens.
The response of the immune system to antigens. There are two types of immune response
produced by two populations of lymphocytes. B-lymphocytes are responsible for humoral immunity, producing free antibodies that circulate in the blood
stream; and T-lymphocytes are responsible for cell-mediated immunity.
The production of immunity by artificial means. Passive immunity,
which is temporary, may be conferred by the injection of an antiserum, but the production
of active immunity calls for the use of treated antigens, to stimulate
the body to produce its own antibodies: this is the procedure of vaccination (also called inoculation). The material used for immunization (the vaccine) may
consist of live bacteria or viruses so treated that they are harmless while remaining
antigenic or completely dead organisms or their products (e.g. toxins) chemically
or physically altered to produce the same effect.
A type of immune antibody that may be involved in 'policing' the body for foreign
bacteria and allergens. Examples are IgE, IgA, IgG an IgM.
Suppression of the immune response, usually by disease (e.g. AIDS) or by drugs (e.g.
Steroids, Azathioprine, Cyclosporin A).
A treatment for allergy to bee and wasp stings and severe hay fever. It involves
having a 3-year course of injections of tiny amounts of the allergen. The treatment
leads to the person becoming less sensitive to the allergen.
A skin infection due to the Staphylococcus Bacterium, it forms scabs and has a 'honey-crust'
A measure of morbidity based on the number of new episodes of illness arising in
a population over an estimated period. It can be expressed in terms of sick persons
or episodes per 1000 individuals at risk. Compare prevalence rate.
Incubation period (latent period)
The interval between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms.
The body's response to injury, which may be acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is the immediate defensive reaction of the tissue to any injury. It involves pain,
heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function of the affected part. In certain circumstances
healing does not occur and chronic inflammation.
A device that enables people with respiratory complaints, including asthma, to breathe
certain medicines in through their mouth, directly into their lungs.
An allergy provoking protein suspended in the air that we breathe. See Aeroallergen.
Powerful chemicals released by lymphocytes and monocytes that regulate the immune
Any of a family of proteins that control some aspects of the immune response. There
are 12 interleukins currently characterised; interleukin-2 (IL-2) stimulates T-lymphocytes.
A comparison of the outcome between 2 or more groups of patients that are deliberately
subjected to different regimes (usually of treatment but sometimes of a preventative
measure, such as vaccination). Wherever possible those entering the trial should
be allocated to the respective groups by means of random numbers, and one such group
(controls) should have no active treatment (
). Ideally neither the patient nor the person assessing the outcome
should be aware of which therapy is allocated to which patient (blind trial),
nor should the doctor responsible for the treatment (double-blind trial),
and the groups should exchange treatment after a pre-arranged period (
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
A common condition, in which recurrent abdominal pain with constipation and/or diarrhoea,
continues for years, without any general deterioration in health. There is no detectable
structural disease. The cause is unknown, but the condition is often associated
with stress or anxiety.
A conical cornea.
Dry sandpaper-rough skin texture found commonly in allergy sufferers.
When allergy testing is positive but no clinical allergy has yet developed to that
allergen. See Atopy.
Rubber derivative commonly found in hospitals in surgical gloves, catheters and
intravenous drip-sets. May cause severe allergic reactions during operations.
All white blood cells
New anti-inflammatory oral medication for Asthma.
The thickening of the epidermis layer of the skin, caused by excessive scratching
and rubbing. Seen in patients with eczema
Small white blood cells that make up the specific immune system — B cells,
T cells and natural killer (NK) cells
Long Face Syndrome
Facial Appearance of the chronic nasal allergy sufferer.
A substance produced by lymphocytes, that has an effect on other cells involved
in the immune system. An example is Interleukin 2 (IL-2).
Large phagocytic cells found in tissues and in blood vessel walls. They destroy
organisms by engulfing them and presenting them to T and B cells; this to activate
The part of an antigen molecule that is responsible for the specific interaction
with an antibody. Penicilloyl is the major determinant of penicillin because it
is responsible for 95% of the anaphylaxis that occurs in penicillin allergic individuals
The cells that release histamine during an allergic reaction after being triggered
by an allergen binding to IgE on its surface.
Microscopic fungi, the spores of which can cause asthma in some people. Cladosporium
and Alternaria spores are most allergenic.
A combined vaccine against measles, mumps and German measles (rubella).
An antibody produced artificially from a cell clone and therefore consisting of
a single type of immunoglobulin. Monoclonal antibodies are produced by fusing antibody-forming
lymphocytes from mouse spleen with mouse myeloma cells. The resulting hybrid cells
multiply rapidly (like cancer cells) and produce the same antibody as their parent
Large phagocytic white blood cells that turn into macrophages when they enter the
The state of being diseased. The morbidity rate is the number of cases of a disease
found to occur in a stated number of the population, usually given as cases per
100,000 or per million. Annual figures of morbidity rate give the incidence of the disease, which is the number of new cases reported in the year.
Describing a skin rash resembling that of measles.
Mortality (mortality rate)
The incidence of death in the population in a given period. The annual mortality
rate is the number of registered deaths in a year, multiplied by 1000 and divided
by the population at the middle of the year.
A mental disorder in which the patient persistently tries to obtain medical treatment,
for an illness that is non-existent: it is an extreme form of malingering. In Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy, the patient inflicts harm on others
(often children) in order to attract medical attention.
Any disease caused by a fungus including Aspergillosis.
Nasal Concha (turbinate bone)
Any of the three thin scroll-like bones that form the sides of the nasal cavity.
The superior and middle nasal conchae are part of the ethmoid bone; the inferior
nasal conchae are a separate pair of bones.
Rubbing of itchy nose due to nasal allergies.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
A localised oral allergic reaction to fruit, vegetables and nuts in Hay Fever sufferers.
Inflammation of the ear.
The study of ear, nose, and throat diseases (i.e. ENT disorders).
An epidemic so widely spread that vast numbers of people in different countries
The air-filled spaces, lined with mucous membrane, within some of the bones of the
skull. They open into the nasal cavity, via the meatuses, and are named according
to the bone in which they are situated. They comprise the frontal sinuses and the maxillary sinuses (one pair each), the
(consisting of many spaces inside the ethmoid bone), and the
two sphenoid sinuses.
Skin tests that can show which substances are causing allergic contact dermatitis
or eczema. The test patch is usually applied to the skin on the person's back for
Peak Flow Meter
Device to measure lung expiration and used to monitor asthma severity.
Perennial allergic rhinitis
An allergic condition that has similar symptoms to hay fever but occurs all the
year round and is confused with a 'permanent' cold.
An eruption of large blisters occurring after exposure to light in people who have
been in contact with certain plants, such as wild parsnip, to which they are sensitive.
A genus of yeast, producing superficial infection of the skin.
The male 'seed' of plants (grasses, flowers, trees) that consists of microscopic
dust-like particles. Can cause hay fever, conjunctivitis and asthma.
A benign growth with ramifications growing in a mucous cavity for e.g. Nasal Polyp.
Eczema of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, associated with intense
A measure of morbidity based on current sickness in a population, estimated either
at a particular time (point prevalence) or over a stated period (period prevalence). It can be expressed either in terms of sick
people (persons) or episodes of sickness per 1000 individuals at risk. Compare incidence rate.
Medicines (often based on steroids) that are usually breathed in from inhalers by
people with asthma. Help to prevent the disease when taken on a regular basis. Also
see Corticosteroids and Anti-inflammatory.
Reaction that mimics an allergy and does not involve the immune system.
Skin rash resulting from bleeding into the skin from small blood vessels; the individual
purple spots of the rash are called petechiae.
Radio AllergoSorbent Test — a blood test to diagnose what causes a particular
allergy. It measures the amount of IgEs in the blood, produced in response to certain
allergens. The CAP-RAST is a newer version RAST with over 400 different allergen
DNA that contains genes from different sources that have been combined by the technique
of genetic engineering rather than by breeding experiments Genetic engineering is
therefore also known as recombinant DNA technology.
Medicines based on Salbutamol that are used to treat the symptoms of an asthma attack
by dilating the small airways. Also see Bronchodilators.
A backward-looking review of the characterics of a group of individuals in relation
to morbidity, embracing some aspects of cross-sectional and/or case control studies.
A runny nose, usually with thin watery secretion
The triad of asthma, aspirin sensitivity and nasal polyps. .
Severe combined Immune Deficiency.
Alteration of the responsiveness of the body to the presence of foreign substances.
In the development of allergy, an individual becomes sensitised to a particular allergen and reaches a state of hypersensitivity.
Skin prick test
An allergy test that involves putting a small amount of a known allergen on to a
scratch in the skin, to see if the body reacts. Used to diagnose allergy to various
pollens, house dust mite droppings and pet dander. Fresh food extracts may be used
to accurately skin test for food allergy.
A plastic tube that fits between the inhaler and the mouth to increase the delivery
of atomised medication to the lungs.
An instrument used for measuring the volume of air inhaled and exhaled.
A severe attack of asthma, which often follows a period of poorly controlled asthma.
Describing a disease or condition that is suspected but not sufficiently developed
to produce definite signs and symptoms in the patient.
Beneath the skin. A subcutaneous injection is given beneath the skin. Subcutaneous
tissue is loose connective tissue, often fatty, situated under the dermis.
A falling-off in the effects produced by a drug during continuous use.
A type of lymphocyte responsible for cell-mediated immunity by regulating B cell
production of antibodies and by acting directly to kill antigens.
An antifungal drug used to treat severe ringworm. Trade name: Lamisil.
A bronchodilator drug used in the treatment of asthma. Trade name: Bricanyl.
Any noise (buzzing, ringing, etc) in the ear. There are many causes including wax
in the ear.
Genus of fungi, parasitic to man, that frequently infects the skin, nails, and hair
and cause ringworm.
Something that can aggravate an allergic reaction but is not necessarily the actual
cause of the allergy. Examples are viruses, exercise, cigarette smoke and cold air.
Enzyme released in acute allergic reactions and during anaphylaxis, which can be
measured on a blood test to confirm that an allergic reaction has definitely occurred.
Delicate inner lining of the nasal passage that swells with nasal allergy and blocks
A condition characterised by an itchy, bumpy rash. Often caused by an allergy. Also
called hives or nettle rash.
A means of producing immunity to a disease by using a vaccine, or special preparation
of antigenic materia, to stimulate the formation of appropriate antibodies.
Anon allergic rhinitis caused by changes in temperature, strong odours, or smoke.
A toxic substance secreted by an insect or a snake.
The maximum volume of air that a person can exhale after maximum inhalation. It
is usually measured on an instrument called a spirometer.
A raised bump on the skin that indicates an allergy in a skin prick test. Also seen
on the skin as Urticaria.
A treatment for eczema that involves applying emollients and corticosteroid creams
to the affected parts of the body and then wrapping the body in wet bandages.
A mild form of the hereditary disorder, ichthyosis in which the skin is dry and
Abnormal dryness of the conjunctiva, the skin or mucous membrane.