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 profession.
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
A severe allergic reaction with swelling, breathing problems
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
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
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 bodys own antibodies (autoantibodies). These disorders include Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), rheumatic fever, and several forms of Thyroid dysfunction including Hashimotos disease.
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 man.
A substance in the blood, consisting of a group of nine different fractions, that aids the bodys 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 and horses.
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.
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 not concealed.
FEV1: Forced Expiratory Volume
The speed with which air is exhaled during the first second in a pulmonary function test.
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.
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 of histamine.
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 to hospital.
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 body.
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 bodys 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 appearance.
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 bodys 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 response.
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 (randomised controlled trial). 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 (cross-over trial).
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.
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 antibody production
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
The cells that release histamine during an allergic reaction
after being triggered by an allergen binding to IgE on its
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 lymphocyte.
Large phagocytic white blood cells that turn into macrophages when they enter the tissues.
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 Munchausens 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.
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.
An epidemic so widely spread that vast numbers of people in different countries are affected.
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 ethmoid sinuses (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 persons back for 48 hours.
Peak Flow Meter
Device to measure lung expiration and used to monitor asthma
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
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 itching.
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
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 tests available.
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.
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.