Indoor Air Quality Allergen Glossary

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Florida Indoor Allergen Glossary

Allergen Glossary

Allergen - A substance that induces a specific immunological response that may lead to allergic disease.

Allergist - A physician specializing in treating allergies.

Allergy - Symptoms induced by exposure to an allergen to which previous sensitization has occurred.

Antibody - An antibody is a protein (also called an immunoglobulin) that is manufactured by lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to neutralize an antigen or foreign protein.  Bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms commonly contain many antigens, as do pollens, dust mites, molds, foods, and other substances.

Asthma - A respiratory disease, often caused by exposure to allergens, marked by wheezing, chest tightness, and sometimes coughing.

Cockroach - Any of various oval, flat-bodied insects common as household pests. The two most common indoor species of cockroach in North America are the German cockroach (Blatella germanica) and the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana).

Dander - The tiny particles of skin and dried sweat and saliva that are shed by animals such as cats and dogs. These are a major cause of allergies.

Dust mites - Tiny creatures related to spiders and ticks. They are found in house dust. House dust mites, due to their very small size, are not visible to the eye, and live for approximately 3 to 4 months.

The two most commonly occurring dust mites are the American house dust mite, (Dermatophagoides farinae) and the European house dust mite, (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus).

ELISA - ELISA is the abbreviation for "Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay" which is a highly sensitive technique for detecting and measuring antigens (allergens) in a solution. The solution is run over a surface to which immobilized antibodies specific to the antigen being measured have been attached. If the antigen is present, it will bind to the antibody layer, and then its presence is verified and visualized with an application of antibodies that have been tagged in some way.

Mold - Any of various fungi that produce visible growth on organic material. Moldy - Covered with or containing mold. Protein - Any of a group of complex organic compounds that are composed of amino acids.

Rhinitis - Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the nose, often due to an allergy to pollen, dust or other airborne substances. Seasonal allergic rhinitis also is known as "hay fever," a disorder that causes sneezing, itching, a runny nose and nasal congestion.

Sensitization - Become responsive to external conditions or stimulation. In the case of allergens, sensitization involves the production of specific antibodies (IgE).