Glossary

Some medical terms can be hard to understand. Below, we have compiled the most common words and expressions in this area and how they are to be interpreted.

A  |  C  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  O  |  R  |  S  |  U

 

A

Allergen
Allergens, also called allergy triggers, are proteins that exist everywhere in our environment and which triggers the allergic reaction. Common allergens that trigger symptoms are pollen, dust mites, food and animals.

Anaphylactic reaction
An acute life-threatening allergic reaction. A number of substances can cause this but the most common are peanuts, tree nuts, and various seafood, fish, eggs and soybean. An anaphylactic reaction usually occurs quickly, within 5-15 minutes and requires immediate care.

Anamnes
The patient’s medical history.

Antigen
A substance to which an antibody binds.

Antibody
A protein of the immune system that binds specifically to other substances (antigens). Antibodies can be triggered by foreign proteins, microorganisms or toxins. IgE is an example of an antibody.

Asthma
A chronic, inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent breathing problems.

Atopy
Allergy tendency, i.e. genetic risk of formation of IgE antibodies and develop an allergic disease.

 

C

Celiac disease
Another name for gluten intolerance. Permanent intolerance to ingestion of food containing gluten.

Conjunctivitis
Inflammation of the conjunctiva. It will usually make the eye appear red or pink because the tiny blood vessels are irritated and enlarged. Other common symptoms are blurred vision and itchy, irritated and watery eyes. Conjunctivitis is also called pinkeye and red eye.

Contact allergy
Contact allergy is an allergy to skin contact with certain materials, for instance nickel or skin care products. The immune system is not involved, only the skin cells. This type of allergy is thus not IgE-mediated.

Cross reactivity
Cross-reactivity occurs when antibodies originally created against a given allergen react to a different allergen that are structurally similar or biologically related.

 

G

Gliadin
The component of gluten that gives Celiac symptoms.

Gluten
The portion of flour which is insoluble in water.

Gluten allergy
This allergy is a wheat protein allergy and should not be mistaken for gluten intolerance (Celiac disease). When you have gluten allergy, the body produces IgE antibodies that can be detected with a simple blood test.

 

H

Hay fever
Allergic rhinitis that occurs during spring and summer, when for example birch and timothy are releasing their airborne pollen which we inhale. Symptoms are swelling of mucous membranes and runny and itchy nose, often in combination with itchy, irritated and watery eyes.

Hyperreactivity
Hypersensitivity in the airways, often caused by cold, strong scents and tobacco smoke. This often affects asthma patients.

Hypersensitivity
Increased sensitivity to normally harmless substances, which leads to an exaggerated response by the immune system. A hypersensitivity reaction is independent of the immunological mechanisms involved.

 

I

The immune system
The body’s defence system

ImmunoCAP
Test Technology for measurement of allergy specific analysis in serum or plasma

Immunotherapy/Hyposensitization/Allergy vaccination
The allergen that causes the allergic reaction is injected with increasing doses during a shorter period. Maintenance is then usually going on for several years. In this way, the person develops tolerance to that specific allergen and may consequently get less severe symptoms.

Intolerance
Hypersensitivity reaction in which no production of IgE antibodies occurs. Examples of intolerance is lactose- and gluten intolerance.

In Vitro
In-vitro diagnostics imply examination outside the body, rather than within the living organism (in-vivo).

 

O

OAS
Oral Allergy Syndrome. The symptoms include irritation and mild swelling of the lips, tongue, palate and throat. OAS is triggered immediately upon ingestion of stone- and malaceous fruits because of cross-reactivity with certain pollens. People with allergy to tree pollen, for example, may experience oral symptoms after eating apples, cherries, or peaches, while those allergic to ragweed pollen may react to carrots and melons.

 

R

Rhinitis
Another name for hay fever.

 

S

Sensitization
The first time an atopic person is exposed to an allergenic substance, the sensitization process may start. The sensitization process implies that the body starts the production of IgE antibodies in order to “remember” the particular substance. Next time contact is made with the allergenic substance, an allergic reaction could occur.

Specific IgE
An IgE antibody to a specific substance, for example cat.


U

Urticaria
Urticaria is a skin condition, commonly known as hives. It is characterized by red, itchy, raised areas of skin that appear in varying shapes and sizes.

 

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.