Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Allergen: A substance that triggers an allergic reaction.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Allergic Rhinitis: An allergy affecting the mucus membrane of the nose. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often called "hay fever."

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Allergist: A doctor that diagnoses, treats, and manages allergy-related conditions.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Ana-Kit: A device used to inject epinephrine during an anaphylaxis attack.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Anaphylaxis: A life-threatening allergic reaction that involves the entire body. Anaphylaxis may result in shock or death, and thus requires immediate medical attention

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Animal dander: The small scales or pieces of skin, often containing proteins secreted by oil glands, which are shed by an animal. These proteins are the major causes of allergies to pets.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Antibiotics: A class of medications used to treat bacterial infections. Certain antibiotics, such as penicillin, may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Antibody: A protein in the immune system that recognizes and attacks foreign substances in the body.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Anticonvulsant: A medication used to prevent or treat seizures. Certain anticonvulsants may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Antihistamines: A class of medications used to block the action of histamines in the body and prevent the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Asthma: An inflammatory disorder of the airways, causing periodic attacks of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Atopic dermatitis: A chronic skin rash, also known as "eczema," that often appears in the first few years of life.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Basophil: An immune system cell that attaches to antibodies and circulates through out the blood.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Beta-blockers: A class of blood pressure medications that ease the heart's pumping action and widen the blood vessels. Beta-blockers counteract the effects of epinephrine used for emergency treatment of anaphylactic shock and should not be used during immunotherapy.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Bronchial tubes: The lower sections of the airway that lead into the lungs.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Challenge test: A test used to confirm an allergy to specific substance. A doctor will administer small but increasing amounts of a suspected allergen until an allergic response is noticed. Due to the risk of anaphylaxis, this should only be performed under a controlled setting.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Conjunctivitis: Inflammation of the conjunctiva, or the mucous membrane surrounding the eye. Also known as pinkeye.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Contact dermatitis: An allergic reaction resulting from skin contact to an allergen.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Corticosteroid: An anti-inflammatory medication used to treat the itching and swelling associated with some allergic reactions.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Cromolym sodium: An anti-inflammatory nasal spray used to treat and sometimes prevent allergic rhinitis.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Decongestants: A class of medications used for nasal congestion. Decongestants are available in oral doses, nasal sprays, or eye drops (for conjunctivitis).

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Dust mites: A microscopic organism that lives in dust.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Eczema: See Atopic dermatitis.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Eosinophil: A specific type of immune cell that can cause tissue damage in the late phase of an allergic reaction.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Epinepherine: A medication used for immediate treatment of anaphylaxis by raising blood pressure and heart rate back to normal levels. Epinepherine is also known as adrenaline.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

EpiPen: A device used to inject epinephrine during an anaphylaxis attack.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Heparin: A chemical released by basophils and mast cells that causes nearby tissues to become swollen and inflamed.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Histamine: A chemical released by basophils and mast cells that causes nearby tissues to become swollen and inflamed.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Hives: See urticaria.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Hypertension: High blood pressure. When blood pushes against artery walls harder than normal.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Immunoglobulin E: A type of antibody responsible for most allergic reactions.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Immunotherapy: A series of shots that help build up the immune system's tolerance to an allergen.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Insulin: A hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Diabetics who take insulin derived from animals may have allergic reactions.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Intradermal test: A test where an allergen is injected just underneath the skin. Intradermal tests are generally used when results from a skin prick test are unclear.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Late Phase: The period 4 - 24 hours after exposure to an allergen where tissue damage may occur.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Leukotrienes: Inflammatory substances that are released by mast cells during an allergic response or asthma attack.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Lymphocyte: A specific type of immune cell that can cause tissue damage in the late phase of an allergic reaction.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Mast cell: An immune system cell which attaches to antibodies and is located in the tissue that lines the nose, bronchial tubes, gastrointestinal tract, and the skin

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Neocromil sodium: An inhaled medication used to treat inflammation involved with asthma.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Neutrophil: A specific type of immune cell that can cause tissue damage in the late phase of an allergic reaction.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Otitis media: A middle ear infection. Otitis media with effusion occurs when fluid builds up within the ear.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Radioallergosorbant Test (RAST): A blood test that measures the amount of IgE antibody produced when the sample is mixed with a specific allergen.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Rhinitis: An inflammation of the nasal passageways, particularly with discharge.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Sinusitis: An inflammation or infection of one or more sinuses. The sinuses are hollow air spaces located around the nose and eyes.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Skin prick test: A test where a needle is used to scratch the skin with a small amount of allergen. A response can usually be seen within 15 - 20 minutes.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Urticaria: Raised areas of the skin that are often red, warm, and itchy. Urticaria is also known as hives.

Click a word on the left and the definition will appear here:

Urushiol: An oil found on poison ivy, oak, and sumac.

Insect and spider bites can cause an allergic reaction. Stinging insects (such as bumblebees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire and harvester ants) are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than biting insects (mosquitoes, horseflies, deerflies, spiders, bedbugs, and black flies).

Most bites and stings do not require emergency medical care. However, a small number of people develop severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to insect stings.

Allergic reactions to insect bites or stings occur very quickly, usually within minutes. Severe reactions, although rare, can be rapidly fatal if untreated. According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology's 2007 Allergy Statistics:

  • At least 40 deaths occur annually in the United States from reactions to insect stings. A severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis occurs in 0.5 - 5% of the U.S. population as a result of insect stings.
  • Venom immunotherapy prevents systemic reactions in patients sensitive to insect stings 97% of the time.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen, or warm lump
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Itching, tingling, numbness, burning, tenderness, pain

Serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) occur when symptoms spread. These can include difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, fever, muscle spasms, or loss of consciousness. If any of these symptoms occur, call for emergency medical help right away.

First aid for minor reactions

  • If the sting is from a honey bee, remove the stinger from the skin if it is still present. Carefully scrape the back of a knife or other thin straight-edged object across the stinger if the victim can remain still, and it is safe to do so. Otherwise, you can pull out the stinger with tweezers or your fingers, but avoid pinching the venom sac at the end of the stinger which will cause more venom to be released.
  • Wash the site thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Cover the site with a clean, cold compress or a clean, moist dressing to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Over the next 24 - 48 hours, observe the site for signs of infection (such as increasing redness, swelling, pain).
  • Sores from scratching can become infected. Keep bites clean and, to prevent infection, don't scratch.

First aid for serious reactions

If the person is having a severe reaction or has been stung inside the mouth or throat, call 911 immediately for emergency medical assistance.

  • Check the person's airway, breathing, and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
  • Reassure the person. Try to keep the person calm, as anxiety will worsen the situation.
  • Remove rings and constricting items because the affected area may swell.
  • Use a special allergy first aid kit, including an epinephrine pen, if available. (Some people who have serious insect reactions carry it with them.)
  • If appropriate, treat the person for signs of shock. Remain with the person until medical help arrives.

Treatment

Non-serious, local reactions usually go away in three to seven days with no treatment. For symptom relief, use an ice pack or wet compresses. (Or, 1 tsp. meat tenderizer mixed with 1 tsp. water applied to bite.)

Drug therapies include:

  • Antihistamines and anti-inflammatories for itching and swelling
  • Topical and oral steroids (may be prescribed by your physician)
  • Antibiotics (if infection occurs)

If the reaction is serious enough that a hospital visit is warranted, antihistamines may be given intravenously and epinephrine (adrenaline) may be administered. Sometimes serious reactions happen again soon after the first reaction stops. Your provider may want to observe you for 8 - 12 hours.

Preventing insect stings and bites

  • Avoid provoking insects whenever possible.
  • Avoid rapid, jerky movements around insect hives or nests.
  • Avoid perfumes and floral-patterned or dark clothing.
  • Use appropriate insect repellants and/or protective clothing.
  • Use caution when eating outdoors, especially with sweetened beverages or in areas around garbage cans which often attract bees.

If you have had a serious reaction to an insect bite, keep an emergency insect sting kit and wear a medical alert bracelet.

Reference

Moffitt JE, Golden DB, Reisman RE, Lee R, Nicklas R, Freeman T, et al. Stinging insect hypersensitivity: a practice parameter update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Oct;114(4):869-86.

 

Main Menu


Review Date: 5/25/2005

Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.


The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

Related Links
Find an Allergist
Request an Appointment Online or call
800-789-PENN (7366)
Penn Lung Center
Encyclopedia Articles about Allergies and Lung Diseases

 

   
   

 

About Penn Medicine   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 800-789-PENN © 2014, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania space