Understanding Terms

  • Anaphylaxis

    A potentially life threatening, severe allergic reaction which should always be treated as a medical emergency. Anaphylaxis occurs after exposure to an allergen (e.g. food, medicine), to which a person is allergic. Not all people with allergies are at risk of anaphylaxis.

    Adrenaline is used for first aid emergency treatment of anaphylaxis, usually given using an adrenaline auto-injector (Epipen). Patients with anaphylaxis should carry an adrenaline auto-injector as part of a comprehensive allergy management plan and have regular follow up visits to a clinical immunology/allergy specialist. Read more.

  • Asthma

    Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, with allergies being one of the major factors associated with its cause. Asthma sufferers experience a narrowing of the airways in the lungs, which obstructs the flow of air into and out of the lungs. This can be reversed using medications and these people can lead normal, active lives if they take regular preventer medication.

    Asthma is most easily recognised by wheezing, a persistent irritable cough, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, wheezing or coughing with exercise. Triggers vary, so you should always see your doctor for advice. Read more.

  • Atopic Dermatitis

    Usually known as eczema, atopic dermatitis is most common in infants under 2 years of age. It can also occur in older children and adults but usually improves with age. Although eczema can be effectively treated and managed, no cures are currently available. The most important thing anyone with eczema can do is to keep the prone skin prone well hydrated with regular moisturising. Read more.

  • Immunodeficiency

    Most of the time, our immune system protects the body from germs and other threats, but sometimes it is slow to react. This is called immune deficiency and it makes you less able to fight off infections.

  • Autoimmune Conditions

    A broad range of related diseases that develop when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy cells. Conditions range from the very common to rare, affecting one or many different types of body tissue, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis.

  • Food Allergy

    The most common causes of allergic reactions in young children are food; in particular: egg, cow’s milk, peanut, tree nut, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, sesame. Symptoms may be localised or generalised, and range from mild to severe. Learn more.

  • Hay fever

    Allergic rhino conjunctivitis (a.k.a. hay fever) affects around 1 in 5 people in Australia. Interestingly, it is not caused by hay and does not result in fever. It occurs when the nose and/or eyes come into contact with environmental allergens, such as pollens, dust mite, moulds and animal hair. Symptoms include sneezing, runny or itchy nose, itchy eyes and may occur seasonally (usually due to pollen allergy ) or all year round. Treatment for hay fever includes antihistamines (such as Claratyne, Telfast and Zyrtec) and intra-nasal steroids (such as Rhinocort and Nasonex).

  • Hives

    Urticaria (hives) is common, with around 1 in 6 people having hives some time in their life, mostly when a child. The swellings on the surface of the skin look like mosquito bites and can range from the size of a pinhead to a dinner plate. For most people hives are not due to allergy and usually the lumps disappear within minutes to hours.

  • Insect Sting Allergy

    Most insect bites and stings result in itchy skin and swelling that settles within a few days. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to insects are usually due to bees, wasps or the Australian Jack Jumper ant. Fortunately, effective treatments are available to treat allergic reactions to bites and stings.