Glossary of Terms

Acute: Symptoms which can occur suddenly with a short and severe course.

Adrenaclick®/Generic Adrenaclick®: a single use epinephrine auto-injector that is used in emergency treatment of allergic reactions. The Adrenaclick®/Generic Adrenaclick® is prescribed based upon the patients weight. Always call for emergency personnel when epinephrine is given.;

Adrenaline: Synonym for epinephrine.

Allergen: A substance that triggers an allergic reaction.

Allergies: An exaggerated response to a substance or condition produced by the release of histamine or histamine-like substances in affected cells. It is characterized by an overreaction of the immune system to protein substances — either inhaled, ingested, touched or injected — that normally do not cause a reaction in non-allergic people.

Allergic Reaction: An immune system response to a substance that itself is not harmful but that the body mistakes as harmful. When an allergen is eaten, the student with food allergy produces histamine and other chemicals. Once the histamine is released in the body, it causes chemical reactions which trigger inflammatory reactions in the skin (itching, hives, rash), the respiratory system (cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing), the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain), and the cardiovascular system (lowered blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, shock). Each person with a food allergy reacts to the allergy differently. Each reaction by a food-allergic student may differ in symptoms.

Anaphylaxis: A sudden, severe allergic reaction that involves various areas of the body simultaneously or causes difficulty breathing and swelling of the throat and tongue. In extreme cases, it can cause death. This type of reaction is sometimes called a systemic, or general body, reaction or allergic shock.

Anaphylaxis Drill: Practice in procedures that would be carried out if there were an anaphylactic emergency. The drill may include but is not limited to: who helps the student; who retrieves the epinephrine auto-injector or administers it; who calls 9-1-1, and who directs the paramedics to the child.

Antihistamines: A class of medications used to block the action of histamines in the body and modify the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Asthma: A chronic, inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by wheezing, breathing difficulties, coughing, and chest tightness. The primary manifestations of asthma are bronchospasm leading to bronchoconstriction, increased bronchial mucus, and inflammation of bronchial tissue leading to edema. These changes make breathing difficult and can cause a feeling of not getting enough air into the lungs or shortness of breath.

Biphasic Reaction: The reoccurrence of an allergic reaction. Children who have an anaphylactic reaction may experience another reaction following the beginning of the first reaction and require further medical treatment. The secondary reaction is called “biphasic,” meaning “phase II.”

Chronic: Symptoms that occur frequently or are long-lasting.

Consumer Hotline (for food staff): Major food distributors’ toll-free numbers (usually found on packaging). Can be used to check for information on ingredients in a food or the food’s processing procedures (i.e. the potential for cross contact).

Cross-Contact: Occurs when the proteins from various foods mix, rendering a “safe” food “unsafe.” This can occur in the cooking process by using contaminated utensils, pans, frying oils, grills, etc.

Delegate/Designee: The lay person that has been educated and trained to administer epinephrine.

Emergency Care Plan(ECP):  a written emergency care plan for students who have a food allergy. See Food Allergy Action Plan for additional details.

EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr.®: EpiPen®: a single use epinephrine auto-injector that is used in emergency treatment of allergic reactions. The EpiPen® is prescribed based upon the patients weight. Always call for emergency personnel when epinephrine is given.

Epinephrine (Adrenaline): The drug of choice for anaphylaxis. It is the first medicine that should be used in the emergency management of a child having a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It’s a natural chemical that works by telling the heart to pump faster and stronger.  It also opens up the airways. There are no contraindications (reason not to give) to the use of epinephrine for a life-threatening allergic reaction. Always call 911 for emergency personnel when epinephrine is given.

504 Plan: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 contains Section 504 Regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 104. This section states that a recipient of Federal financial assistance cannot discriminate, exclude from participation in, or deny the benefits of any program or activity on the basis of an individual’s disability. As it relates to the educational setting, this is a regular education issue, not a special education issue. Procedural safeguards are handled through due process or the Office of Civil Rights and discrimination court cases. A person is defined as disabled if they have a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits one or more of the following major life activities: caring for one’s self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working or performing manual tasks.

Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP): A written emergency care plan for students who have a food allergy. An FAAP provides specific directions about what to do in a medical emergency such as an accidental exposure to the allergen. The ECP/FAAP is a part of the IHP (Individual Health Plan).

Food Allergy Management and Prevention Plan (FAMPP): A comprehensive plan that should include all strategies and actions needed to manage food allergies in schools or Early Childhood Education program. The FAMPP should reinforce the efforts of each school or ECE program to create a safe learning environment for all children. It should address system wide planning, implementation, and follow-up and include specific actions for each individual child with a food allergy. Source: Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2013.

Food Allergies: An immune system response to proteins in certain foods. Upon ingestion, the body creates antibodies to that food. When the antibodies react with the food, histamine and other chemicals are released from cells. The release of those chemicals may cause hives, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms of an allergic reaction. (See Allergic Reaction)

Food Allergy Challenge: A food challenge may be done to confirm the diagnosis of food allergy or to determine if the food allergy has been “outgrown.” Food challenges are performed in a hospital or Allergist office based upon the child’s history and testing results. During a food challenge the child eats the allergy causing food. The food is provided in several doses, starting with a very small amount. If there are no reactions, the dose is increased to larger amounts over several hours. Food challenges should be done only under direct medical supervision by a team prepared to handle reactions, including anaphylaxis. A food challenge is the only way to determine if a child no longer has food allergy to a specific food.

Food Intolerance: When the body has difficulty digesting food and the immune system is not affected. Unlike the case of food allergies, the food intolerant person may be able to eat small quantities of the food without any problems (i.e., lactose intolerance with milk).

Histamine: Histamine is a naturally occurring substance that is released by the immune system after being exposed to an allergen. When you are exposed to an allergen, mast cells release histamine. Histamine then attaches to receptors on nearby blood vessels, causing them to enlarge (dilate). Histamine also binds to other receptors causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in the secretions.

Hives: Itchy, swollen, red bumps or welts on the skin that appear suddenly. They may be a result of the body’s adverse reaction to certain allergens. They can appear anywhere on the body including the face, lips, tongue, throat or ears. Hives vary in size and can last for minutes or days. Hives are also known as urticaria.

Individualized Healthcare Plan (IHP): The IHP is a nursing document based on nursing diagnosis, nursing interventions and expected student outcomes. This document is written in nursing language and outlines the plan of care that the registered school nurse writes in response to a medical diagnosis by the student’s private healthcare provider.

Medical History: A list of a child’s past health problems, any reactions to foods, name of the food(s) that caused a reaction and what kind of reaction was it (hives, rash, difficulty breathing, etc.), current symptoms, medicines, and health risk factors.

MedicAlert™ Bracelet/Necklace: A necklace or bracelet worn by a student with food allergies that states the allergens and gives emergency contact numbers or information.

Prick Skin Test: A skin test in which an extract of the food is placed on the skin of the lower arm. The provider will then scratch this portion of the skin with a needle and look for swelling or redness, which would be a sign of a local allergic reaction. Skin tests are simple and relatively safe when performed in a physician’s office.

RAST (Radioallergosorbent Test): Measures the presence of food-specific leg in the blood. 

State Educational Agency (SEA): The State board of education or other agency or officer primarily responsible for the supervision of public elementary and secondary schools in a State. In the absence of this officer or agency, it is an officer or agency designated by the Governor or State law. Find your state SEAs at: