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Allergy Abbreviations and Acronyms
> Return to Allergy Board

 

This list contains common acronyms and abbreviations used when discussion food allergies. To the left is a list of medical terms commonly used by allergists. Below are abbreviations commonly used at allergy.hyperboards.com.

If you have an addition to this list, please post it in the Allergy Acronyms and Abbreviations thread. A member will (eventually) add your entries to this list.

BTC: behind the counter
DD, DS, DH: dear daughter/son/husband
Dx: Diagnosis
EA: egg allergy/allergic
Epi: epinephrine injector (i.e. Epi-Pen® injector
FA: food allergy/allergic
Hx: history (i.e. medical)
LFTA: life-threatening food allergy
MA: milk allergy/allergic
MFA: multiple food allergies
NKA: no known allergies
OTC: over the counter
PA: peanut allergic
Rx: by prescription
SFA: seafood allergy/allergic
TNA: tree nut allergy/allergic

 

 

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Anaphylactic shock: an extreme bodily response to an antigen, also sometimes referred to as anaphylactic shock. Death can occur is breathing is constricted (from swelling of the throat/airway and asthma) or blood pressure drops (from fluid exiting the vascular system into hives/swelling).
Anaphylaxis: an IgE-mediated response involving two or more body systems (skin, airway, cardiac, gastrointestinal). Anaphylaxis is caused by the body's release of mast cells, histamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes. While some symptoms of anaphylaxis can be helped with antihistamines and vasodilation inhalers, the first line of treatment should be epinephrine.
Antibody: a substance created by the body when the immune system encounters an antigen. Antibodies "mark" antigens so the body can deal with them. Many antibodies can be measured with RAST tests.
Antigen: a scientific term for the food protein(s) to which a person is allergic. It is also a general term to describe any substance that stimulates the immune system.
Antihistamine: a medication that helps the histamine portion of an allergic response. Common brand names include Benedryl® liquid, tablets and strips and Zyrtec® liquid.
EE: eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic condition affecting the esophagus. Common in teen boys and men, this condition can cause heartburn, acid reflux and difficulty swallowing. Food elimination diets can help in some cases.
Epinephrine (norepinephrine) : a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of a severe allergic reaction by dilating the airway and blood vessels (easing breathing and stopping the flow of liquids out of the vascular system). Epinephrine is chemically identical to adrenaline. The two terms may be used interchangeably. Though British English usage may prefer 'adrenaline' over 'epinephrine,' this difference appears to be fading from general use, perhaps because of products like "Epi-pen."
Epinephrine is prescribed to food-allergic patients in the form of a self-injection. Brand names include Epi-Pen® injectors and Twin-Ject® injectors.
Norepinephrine, while not chemically identical, may be preferred to epinephrine in some hospital care scenarios. Norepinephrine is also an adrenergic agonist which is used for its therapeutic benefits. It can be converted into epinephrine enzymatically once administered.

Here's a link to chemical structures for all you chemists.

Food challenge: a controlled introduction of a food to which an individual may be allergic used to verify the allergy (or confirm if a child has outgrown an allergy). Food challenges are usually done in the doctor's office or at the hospital. A gradually larger dose of the food is given over fixed time intervals and the patient observed for signs of a reaction. A blind food challenge is where the patient does not actually know if the food being given contains the allergen.
Histamine: a chemical in the body that is released by the immune system in response to an antigen. Histamines are the thing that causes stuffy/runny nose, itching, hives and vomiting. An antihistamine will alleviate these symptoms but will not prevent anaphylactic shock.
IgE: Immunoglobulin E, a substance the body creates in response to an antigen. This substance can be measured in RAST tests. When doctors refer to a food allergy, they are most typically talking about this type of reaction. A common term in scientific literature for this allergy is "IgE-mediated."
IgG: Immunoglobulin G. Another substance that the body creates in response to an antigen. IgG reactions are typically gastrointestinal and cannot cause anaphylaxis.
Leukotrienes: a substance created by the body that causes an inflammatory response in response to an antigen. Because they can cause long-term swelling and damage, many people with asthma take a daily leukotriene-inhibiting medication such as Singulair® tablets.
Mast cells: a special type of body cell involved in wound healing and defence against pathogens. Mast cells can cause trouble when they become sensitized to an antigen and settle in tissue. The most common spots for them to settle are the skin, digestive tract and lungs. When an allergen comes into the body, they release histamine.
OAS: Oral allergy syndrome. A pollen allergy that may cause food-allergic symptoms in some individuals when foods are eaten that contain a similar protein structure as the pollen. For example, an allergy to ragweed pollen can cause some people to react to melons, banana and cucumber; an allergy to birch pollen can cause some people to react to apples. OAS symptoms are often seasonal when the offending pollen is present.
Prostaglandins: a fat created by the body that influences mast cells and can contribute to swelling and the allergic response. Prostaglandins are blocked by steroids.
RAST: radioallergosorbent test. A blood test used to determine the different foods (antigens) a person may be allergic to. RAST results are typically reported in units per liter (kU/l). They are sometimes reported by "class", with levels ranging from Class 0 (no antibody detected) to Class 6 (greater than 100kU/l detected).
The severity of a person's allergic response is not related to RAST level. Class 3 individuals can have severe responses and Class 6 can have mild. RAST tests are only useful to determine whether an individual is allergy, not how allergic they are. However, different antigens have different threshold levels above which an allergic response is likely. For example, people with a peanut RAST result of >14kU/l are likely to have an allergic response to peanut. Soybean typically required >30kU/l; egg as little as 7kU/l.
Class 1 and Class 2 often fall below the threshold where most individuals would experience a food reaction, so doctors often consider results in this range equivocal. If results fall in this range and the patient has not experienced an actual reaction to a food, the allergy may be confirmed via a food challenge.
SPT (or SP): Skin Prick Test. Used to diagnose food allergies, most often in conjunction with patient history and/or RAST testing. The allergist places a small amount of the antigen being tested on the patient's skin and scratches across it with a sterile needle. A skin wheel or welt may signal an allergic response. While an anaphylactic reaction is possible to an SPT, it is extremely rare (0.04% according to a Mayo Clinic source). SPT tests typically show about an 85% agreement with RAST tests.*
Steroid (corticosteroid): a medication (and natural body substance) used to reduce swelling, especially long-term swelling that can persist after an allergic reaction.
Wheal: the swelling that occurs during a skin response to an antigen. The size of the wheal is measured during a skin prick test. A wheal of 5mm or greater is considered diagnostic of an allergy. The size of the wheal does not correspond to the severity of allergic response.

*Important to note: doctors use a combination of examination and test criteria to diagnose an allergy. A positive RAST test or SPT test is not sufficient.



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