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Food Allergies

Food Allergies: Glossary

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 15:42

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to Food Allergies And Intolerance.

Additive: A substance, such as an artificial color or preservative, added to food.

Allergen: A substance that produces an allergic reaction.

Allergy: The body's exaggerated reaction to a foreign substance that is harmless to most people. For a reaction to be considered an allergic reaction, it must involve the immune system. The foreign substance may be eaten, inhaled or injected.

Anaphylaxis: A severe allergic reaction that involves much of the body-the respiratory system, skin, digestive tract and, sometimes, blood circulation. Symptoms include cough, wheezing, closing of the throat, runny nose, hives and swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and a drop in blood pressure that may cause loss of consciousness and even death. However it is important to know that a life-threatening or fatal reaction may occur without skin symptoms.

Antibody: A protein made by the body's immune system to combat foreign substance, most often a foreign protein.

Antihistamine: A medicine used to counteract histamine, a chemical released by the body in an allergic reaction, which contributes to the inflammation.

Atopic dermatitis: See eczema.

Biopsy: Removal of tissue for examination.

Cross contamination: When a small amount of food accidentally gets into another food.

Double-blind study: A trial in which neither the patient nor physician can distinguish between the real thing (for example a pill) and the inactive substance(the dummy pill).

Eczema (atopic dermatitis): A non-scarring skin rash that usually begins in childhood. Allergy may be involved in less than half of all children with eczema.

Enzyme: A protein that helps other chemical reactions occur, but isn't itself affected in the reaction.

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline): A hormone, also used as a drug used to treat anaphylactic shock.

Histamine: A chemical in certain body cells, which contributes to inflammation and causes itching, swelling, sneezing and other allergic symptoms.

Hives: An allergic condition characterized by red, slightly swollen eruptions or itchy lumps on the skin.

hypersensitivity: Another word for allergy.

IgE (Immunoglobulin E): One type of antibody that defends the body against outside invaders. When certain proteins interact with specidic IgE antibodies the resulting reaction is an allergic reaction.

Immune system: The body's defense system, which fights disease and infections.

Immunoglobulin: A group of proteins known as antibodies that are involved in defending the body against outside invaders.

Inflammation: A protective reaction to an injury that may cause severe discomfort.

Mast cells: Cells present close to body surfaces (such as the skin and intestines), which produce and release chemicals-for instance, histamine-which then produce allergic symptoms.

Metabolism: The building and breaking that occurs continually in the body.

Placebo: A substance used in testing that has no known physical effect on the body. It may have a powerful psychological effect, however.

Toxin: A poison.

Vaccine: An injection given to induce immunity and protect against a certain germ.

Food Allergies