Allergy Glossary –Clarityn®

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Allergy Glossary

Find common allergy terms below to help you better understand conversations with your doctor about your condition and symptoms.

A

Allergen

A substance that your body perceives as foreign and harmful; initiates the allergic reaction.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is a condition caused by the overreaction of the immune system to allergens from plants, dust, mould and animals. Common symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, itching of the nose or throat.

Anaphylaxis

Severe, life-threatening allergic response that may be characterised by symptoms such as lowered blood pressure, wheezing, vomiting or diarrhoea, and swelling and hives.

Angioedema

Swelling similar to urticaria (hives), but the swelling occurs beneath the skin instead of on the surface. Angioedema is characterised by deep swelling that commonly occurs around the eyes and lips and sometimes of the hands and feet.

Antibodies

Specialised proteins produced by white blood cells that circulate in the blood. Antibodies seek and attach to foreign proteins, microorganisms or toxins in order to identify and help neutralise them. They are part of the immune system.

Antigen

A substance, usually a protein, which the body perceives as foreign.

Antihistamine

Medication that relieves symptoms of sneezing, itching and runny nose by blocking histamine receptors.

C

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the top layer of the eyeball. If the cause is a bacterial infection, it is called bacterial conjunctivitis. If the cause is allergic, it is called allergic conjunctivitis.

D

Dander (Animal)

Tiny flakes that shed from animal skin and get trapped on animal fur or hair. Dander floats in the air, settles on surfaces and can make up much of household dust. Cat dander is a common cause of allergic reactions.

Decongestant

Medication that shrinks swollen nasal tissues to relieve symptoms of nasal swelling, congestion and mucus secretion.

Dermatitis

Inflammation of the skin, either due to direct contact with an irritating substance or to an allergic reaction. Symptoms include redness, itching, and, sometimes, blistering.

Dust Mites

A common trigger for indoor allergies. They are microscopic mites that live in the fibers of pillows, mattresses, blankets and carpet. They live off our dead skin cells. Inhalation of their droppings can cause allergic reactions such as runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion.

H

Hayfever

A common condition characterised by an overreaction of the immune system to certain allergens usually found outside such as, tree, grass or weed pollen, or mould spores.

HEPA

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores where it is captured.

Histamine

A naturally occurring substance that is released by the immune system after being exposed to an allergen. When you inhale an allergen, mast cells located in the nose and sinus membranes release histamine. Histamine then attaches to receptors on nearby blood vessels, causing them to enlarge (dilate). Histamine also binds to other receptors located in nasal tissues, causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in the secretions.

Hives

Hives (also called urticaria) are itchy, swollen, red bumps or welts on the skin that appear as a result of the body’s adverse reaction to certain allergens. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat or ears.

Hypoallergenic

Products designed to be less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

I

Immune System

The body’s defence system that protects us against infections and foreign substances.

Indoor Allergies

Characterised by an overreaction of the immune system to certain allergens (see Allergens) commonly found indoors, such as mould spores, pet dander, cockroaches or dust mites (also called perennial allergies). Indoor allergies tend to last longer than allergies caused by exposure to outdoor allergens.

M

Mould

Parasitic, microscopic fungi (like Alternaria) that float in the air like pollen. Mould spores are a common trigger for allergies and can be found in damp areas, such as the bathroom, as well as outdoors in grass, leaf piles, hay, mulch or under mushrooms.

Mould Count

A measure of the amount of outdoor mould spores in the air. The count is reported as grains of mould spores per cubic meter of air and is translated into a corresponding level: absent, low, moderate, high or very high.

O

Outdoor Allergies

Characterised by an overreaction of the immune system to certain allergens (see Allergens) commonly found outside, such as tree, grass or weed pollens, mould spores, etc. Outdoor allergies tend to last for shorter periods of time than those caused by exposure to indoor allergens.

P

Perennial Allergies

A year-round condition characterised by an overreaction of the immune system to certain allergens (see Allergens) commonly found indoors, such as mould spores, pet dander, cockroaches or dust mites (also called indoor allergies).

Pollen

A fine, powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower called stamens or from the male cone of a tree.

Pollen Count

A measure of the amount of pollen in the air. The counts are usually reported for three types of pollen: grasses, trees and weeds. The count is reported as grains per cubic meter of air and is translated into a corresponding level: absent, low, moderate, high or very high.

R

Rhinitis

An inflammation of the mucous lining of the nose.

S

Seasonal Allergies

A persistent condition characterised by an overreaction of the immune system to certain allergens commonly found outside such as tree, grass or weed pollens, or mould spores. These can also be called hayfever or outdoor allergies. These allergen levels typically fluctuate throughout the year, which is why they are often referred to as seasonal.

Sinusitis

Inflammation of the sinuses; which can be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infections or allergies.

U

Urticaria

Urticaria (also called hives) are itchy, swollen, red bumps or welts on the skin that appear suddenly. They may be a result of the body’s adverse reaction to certain allergens. It can appear anywhere on the body, including the face, lips, tongue, throat or ears.

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