This glossary was taken from Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 3rd Edition Revised.
© 2005-2016 Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

ACE inhibitor

A type of medication used to treat heart disease or high blood pressure which may worsen an allergic reaction.


A hormone secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stressful situations. In synthetic form it is known as epinephrine.


A substance capable of causing an allergic reaction; for example pollens, moulds, animal dander, house dust mites, foods, insect stings, medications, and natural latex.

Allergic reaction

An adverse immune response following repeated contact with otherwise harmless substances such as pollens, molds, foods, or drugs.


A medical doctor who has first specialized in internal medicine or pediatrics and then has obtained additional subspecialty training required to qualify as a specialist in allergy and immunology.


An altered immune response caused by a specific substance.


A serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.


A drug that blocks the effects of histamine, which is one of the substances released into the tissues during an allergic reaction.


A common chronic condition affecting the lungs, characterized by inflammation, constriction of the muscles surrounding the airways and excess mucus production. Symptoms may include cough, wheeze, or breathlessness.


A “user-friendly” pre-loaded syringe used to administer epinephrine.


A type of medication used to treat heart disease or high blood pressure which may interfere with the action of epinephrine and worsen the allergic reaction.


Present for a long time.


A synthetic version of the hormone adrenalin; used in the treatment of anaphylaxis and life-threatening asthma attacks.


One of the substances released into the tissues during an allergic reaction.


A skin condition of smooth, slightly elevated bumps or welts, which are redder or paler white than the surrounding skin and are accompanied by severe itching. Not all hives are allergic in origin.

Idiopathic reaction

A reaction that results from an unknown cause.

Immune system

The infection-fighting part of the body; in allergic individuals, harmless substances trigger the immune system to “fight”.


The science and study of the immune system.


A series of desensitizing injections (allergy shots) prescribed by an allergist that may be used to protect against allergy; extremely small amounts of an allergen, such as stinging insect venom, are gradually given in increasing dosages until a tolerance develops; not available for all allergens.

Oral immunotherapy

An experimental desensitization treatment for food allergy. With this treatment, extremely small amounts of an allergen are gradually given in increasing dosages until a tolerance develops (the patient eats the food to which they are allergic). Not yet available as a routine treatment option.


Complex chemical substances made of amino acids; proteins are essential constituents of all living cells.


A written plan to follow for management of a condition in case of an emergency; useful tool for schools, day cares, summer camps, etc.


An allergic response to an allergen that results in specific IgE antibodies being produced that allow allergic reactions whenever subsequent exposure occurs.

Skin tests

The placement of a small, dilute amount of allergen onto the skin of the arm or back, through which the skin is pricked, or the injection of a small, dilute amount of allergen under the skin. If the patient is allergic to that substance, a small raised area surrounded by redness will appear at the test site within 15 minutes.

Stock epinephrine auto-injector

A device which is not designated for a particular person and can be used to treat anaphylaxis. It is meant for occasions where an individual does not have an auto-injector with them (they forgot it, they have not been diagnosed and are having a first time reaction).

Systemic reaction

An allergic reaction that affects the whole body or body system, as opposed to a local reaction that is confined to the immediate area of exposure.


Factors that can provoke allergic reactions or asthma episodes, including allergens and irritants.


See Hives.