gastrointestinal allergy

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gastrointestinal allergy

an immediate hypersensitivity reaction of the digestive system after the ingestion of certain foods or drugs. GI allergy differs from food allergy, which can affect other organ systems. Characteristic symptoms include itching and swelling of the mouth and oral passages, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes containing blood), severe abdominal pain, and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock. Treatment includes identification and removal of the allergen. In an acute attack epinephrine may be administered as a stimulant, and muscle relaxants may be given to reduce intestinal spasms that cause abdominal pain. In childhood, GI allergy is most often caused by hypersensitivity to cow's milk and is characterized by diarrhea and colicky pain, sometimes with vomiting, eczema, respiratory distress, and thrombocytopenia. Compare food allergy. See also lactose intolerance.


an altered reactivity following second or subsequent exposure to antigen (allergen). See also hypersensitivity, allergic.

atopic allergy
hereditary predisposition to develop certain allergies. See atopy.
bacterial allergy
a specific hypersensitivity to a particular bacterial antigen, e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis; it is dependent on previous infection with the specific organism.
bronchial allergy
cold allergy
a condition manifested by local and systemic reactions, mediated by histamine, which is released from mast cells and basophils as a result of exposure to cold.
delayed allergy
see delayed hypersensitivity.
drug allergy
see drug allergy.
drying-off allergy
see milk allergy (below).
food allergy
called also gastrointestinal allergy; see food hypersensitivity.
gastrointestinal allergy
see food allergy (above).
hereditary allergy
an allergy with a hereditary predisposition. The tendency to develop some forms of allergy is inherited, but the specific clinical form is not. IgE, formerly called reagin or reaginic antibody, may be involved. See also atopy.
induced allergy
allergy resulting from the injection of an antigen, contact with an antigen, or infection with a microorganism, as contrasted with hereditary allergy.
inhaled allergy
see atopy.
milk allergy
a hypersensitivity to the milk protein, α-casein. Signs, varying from urticaria to anaphylaxis, have occurred in Jersey cows when milk escapes from the udder into the bloodstream during the drying off period.
physical allergy
a condition in which physical agents, such as heat, cold or light, trigger an allergic response.
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