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Allergies Health Center

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Allergy Terms


Immune system: The body's defense system that protects us against infections and foreign substances.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is given to gradually increase a person's tolerance to the substances that provoke allergy symptoms (allergens). It's usually recommended for people who suffer from allergies more than three months a year. Immunotherapy can be given as allergy shots and oral tablets or drops.

Latex: Also known as rubber or natural latex. Latex is a milky fluid derived from the rubber tree. It is used in a wide variety of consumer products, including rubber gloves, tubing, and rubber bands, for example.

Latex allergy: An allergy that develops after some sensitizing contact with latex.

Mast cell: A type of white blood cell that is involved in an allergic reaction. These cells release chemicals such as histamine.

Metered dose inhaler (MDI): Small aerosol canister in a plastic container that releases a burst of medication when pressed down from the top. Many asthma drugs are taken using a MDI.

Mold: Parasitic, microscopic fungi that float in the air like pollen. Mold is a common trigger for allergies and can be found in damp areas, such as basements or bathrooms, as well as in grass, leaf piles, hay, mulch, or under mushrooms.

Mold count: See Pollenand mold counts.

Myringotomy: Outpatient procedure in which small metal or plastic tubes are inserted through the eardrum to equalize pressure between the middle and outer ear.

Nasal endoscopy: A test that allows the doctor to view the nasal cavity to detect polyps or other abnormalities.

Nasal sprays: Medication used to prevent or treat nasal symptoms. Available by prescription or over-the-counter in decongestant, antihistamine, corticosteroid, or salt-water solution form. A mast cell (see above) stabilizer form is also available.

Otitis media: Bacterial or viral infection of the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum).

Otolaryngologist: A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating a variety of disorders of the ear, nose, and throat.

Otoscope: A lighted instrument that lets the doctor see far down into the outer ear canal.

Pneumatic otoscope: An instrument that blows a puff of air into the ear canal to test eardrum movement.

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