Allergen: A substance the body thinks is harmful, which triggers an allergic reaction.
Allergist: A doctor who specializes in allergy-related conditions.
Anaphylaxis: A severe, life-threatening reaction marked by trouble breathing, a drop in blood pressure, along with hives, stomach cramps, or belly pain. In severe cases, a person will go into shock. If anaphylactic shock isn't treated immediately, it can be fatal.
Decongestants: Medications that shrink swollen nasal membranes, which eases congestion and mucus, and makes it easier to breathe.
Desensitization: When the bosy is exposed gradually to a small amount of an allergin to help build up immunity to it.
Elimination diet: A plan that has you stop eating foods that might be causing your allergic reactions and then introduces them back one at a time to identify the problem food or foods.
Epinephrine: A medication that treats severe allergic reactions immediately. Also known as adrenaline, this relaxes tightened muscles around the airways, which makes it easier to breathe.
HEPA filter: High-efficiency particulate air filter. This type of filter removes tiny airborne particles by pushing them through screens with microscopic pores.
Hypoallergenic: Products that have as few allergens as possible.
Immunotherapy: Your doctor may call these “allergy shots.” They slowly expose you to an allergen (usually by injection, but drops may also be placed under the tongue). They’re meant to raise your tolerance to allergy-causers like pollen, dander, insect stings, or some foods. The FDA has also approved under-the-tongue immunotherapy tablets that treat hay fever.
Leukotriene inhibitors: Medications used to treat asthma that block chemicals that tighten airways, make mucus, and cause swelling in the lungs.
Nasal spray: Over-the-counter products or prescription drugs you spray into your nose to treat and prevent nasal symptoms like congestion and nose running.
Nebulizer: A device that turns liquid medicine into a mist you inhale. Nebulizers make medication easier to take for some people, like infants or seniors.
Sensitization: Development of a reaction to a substance over time rather than immediately.
Skin testing: A procedure in which a small bit of allergen is scratched on your skin. If you’re allergic, that area of your skin swells. It usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes. You may hear it called a skin prick test.