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Allergen: A substance that triggers an allergic reaction.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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Dust mites: A microscopic organism that lives in dust.

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Eczema: See Atopic dermatitis.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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Hives: See urticaria.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

People with osteoarthritis often experience the following symptoms in their joints:

  • Aches and pain
  • Stiffness and loss of mobility
  • Swelling
  • Bone growths, knobs, and cysts


NormalOsteorthritis

People often find that it becomes more difficult to climb stairs, open jars, and perform other activities as the disorder progresses.

Pain

Osteoarthritis often involves a deep ache within or near the affected joint. Most people experience joint pain that worsens during the course of the day. Other people, however, report the greatest pain in the morning.

  • The pain is caused primarily by joint damage. Joint pain results when bony overgrowths rub together or when small stress fractures are present.
  • Secondary injuries may occur if pain limits a joint's normal range of motion.
  • The body may respond by protectively "favoring" one joint over another. For example, if the painful joint is a knee or an ankle, the "favored" joint may be overused, causing painful muscle strain.

Other painful sensations, such as rubbing or grating within the joint, may be felt when a person performs specific activities, such as bending, kneeling, or stair climbing.

As cartilage wears away on the ends of the bones and cushioning is lost, the intensity of pain may increase. Pain may become quite severe if the cartilage has completely deteriorated and the joint becomes unstable.

Pain does not come from the cartilage (which contains no nerves), but from the adjacent stretched or irritated tissues.

Sometimes osteoarthritis can cause "referred" pain -- that is, pain that is not experienced directly in the damaged joint, but is felt in other regions instead. For example:

  • An arthritic hip joint may cause painful sensations in the buttocks, groin, thigh, or knee.
  • Arthritis of the spine can cause pain that radiates to the neck, arms, or legs.
  • The pain may worsen after stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one or separation from a spouse.

Stiffness after inactivity

After periods of inactivity (for example, sleeping or prolonged sitting), a person may experience considerable stiffness in the osteoarthritic joint. Stiffness usually lasts for about 30 minutes or less and is improved by mild activity that "warms up" the joint.

Morning stiffness that lasts more than 1 hour should make one think of rheumatoid arthritis more than osteoarthritis.

Bony enlargement and swelling

Progressive breakdown of cartilage may lead to the formation of enlarged bony growths or "spurs" on the bone ends. Such growths increase the appearance of swelling and knobbiness as they continue the cycle of irritation and swelling.

Once the synovial membrane (smooth tissue that surrounds the joint) becomes irritated by the erosion of cartilage, it may produce an excessive amount of fluid that can collect within the joint and lead to continual or occasional swelling.

Osteoarthritis usually doesn't cause any prominent inflammation (a protective response in which tissue may become red, warm, and tender) in response to injury. This distinguishes it from rheumatoid arthritis, which is associated with considerable joint inflammation. Occasionally people with osteoarthritis experience mild inflammation, although the exact cause of this response remains unknown.

 

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Review Date: 11/22/2006

Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., 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.

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