Glossary

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  • Allergen

    A substance that is foreign to the body and can cause or 'trigger' an allergic reaction in certain people. Pollen, dander, and mold are all examples of common allergens.

  • Allergic reaction

    The hypersensitive response of an allergic person's immune system to a substance or allergen.

  • Allergic rhinitis

    Medical term for hay fever, a condition due to allergy that mimics a chronic cold. Many substances can cause allergic symptoms that include a clear mucus, runny nose; sneezing; itchy, red, watery eyes; itchy nose; or nasal congestion. Post-nasal drip may also occur.

  • Allergy

    A reaction to usually harmless foreign substances by the body's immune system — its defense against foreign invaders, particularly pathogens. People prone to allergies are said to be allergic or atopic.

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  • Decongestant

    An agent that relieves nasal congestion (of the mucus membranes)

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  • Hay fever

    An indoor and outdoor allergy to airborne particles characterized by itchy eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy throat, and extra mucus.

  • HEPA

    High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These filters remove air particles by forcing the air through screens containing microscopic pores.

  • Histamine

    A chemical substance that is the body's major defense against allergic reactions. Histamine dilates blood vessels and makes the vessel walls porous.

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  • Immune system

    The body's defense system that protects us against infections and foreign substances.

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  • Microscopic

    Anything that is so small it cannot be seen without a microscope.

  • Mold

    A large group of microscopic fungi that lives on plant or animal matter. Most produce spores that can be air-, water-, or insect-borne, and can frequently trigger allergies.

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  • Nasal

    Relating to the nose, coming from the Latin "nasus," meaning nose or snout.

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  • Pollen

    Small, light, dry particles of protein from trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds that can be spread by wind. Pollen is usually a plant's male sex cells, and is smaller than a pinhead. Pollen stimulates allergic responses when it lodges in the mucus membranes that line the nose and other parts of the respiratory tract, causing irritation and histamine reactions.

  • Pollen (mold) counts

    Measurement of the amount of allergens in the air. Counts are usually reported for mold spores and tree, grass, and weed pollen, and calculated as grains per cubic meter of air, which is then translated into an 'absent, low, medium, or high' rating.

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  • Rhinitis

    Irritation of the nose. Derived from the Greek word rhinos, meaning 'of the nose.'

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