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    Living With Allergies: A Glossary

    Allergen. A foreign substance the body perceives as harmful, triggering an allergic reaction.

    Allergist. A doctor who diagnoses and treats allergy-related conditions.

    Recommended Related to Allergies

    Regional Allergies

    Q: Atlanta is beautiful in the spring, but my allergies are so bad! Will moving to the desert make them go away? A: Ragweed and grass pollens are triggers that are difficult to avoid almost everywhere in the continental United States during the spring and summer. Although much of Arizona and New Mexico is arid, most people in the cities, suburbs, and small towns grow grass for lawns. Plus, the land has been disturbed by construction and landscaping, so weeds are widespread. Las Vegas, Tucson,...

    Read the Regional Allergies article > >

    Anaphylaxis . A life-threatening allergic reaction involving the entire body. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.

    Antihistamines . These drugs block histamine -- a chemical the body releases during an allergic reaction -- reducing symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose.

    Asthma . A chronic inflammatory lung disease. Symptoms include breathing problems, fatigue, headaches, and cough. Asthma is often triggered by allergens, infection, exercise, cold air, or other factors.

    Atopic dermatitis . See "Eczema."

    Bronchitis . An inflammation of the lung's airways. Symptoms include a persistent cough and phlegm. Bronchitis is usually seen in smokers and in places with high pollution.

    Contact dermatitis . An allergic reaction that occurs after skin comes in contact with an allergen such as poison ivy, washing powders, perfumes, or other irritants.

    Dander. Small pieces of skin shed by an animal, similar to human dandruff. Proteins found in dander are the major causes of pet allergies.

    Decongestants . Medications that shrink swollen nasal membranes, decreasing congestion and mucus, and making it easier to breathe.

    Eczema . Chronic inflammation that causes a skin rash. Eczema may be a reaction to an allergen. Symptoms include itching, crusting, blisters, and scaling. Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that worsens after exposure to an allergen.

    Epinephrine . A drug used to immediately treat severe allergic reactions. Also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

    Inflammation. Redness, swelling, heat, and pain in a tissue. Such symptoms can be the result of an allergic reaction in the nose, lungs, or skin.

    Hay fever . Also known as allergic rhinitis. Hay fever is an inflammation of the mucus membranes in the nose. Hay fever often results from allergies to pollen, dust, certain foods, and other substances. Symptoms include sneezing, itching, runny nose, and nasal congestion.

    Histamine. A chemical released by the immune system after it's exposed to an allergen. It causes tissues to become swollen, inflamed, itchy, and red.

    Hives . An allergic reaction of the skin. Symptoms include itchy, swollen, red bumps that appear suddenly. Hives can show up anywhere, including lips, tongue, and ears. Also known as urticaria.

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