idiosyncrasy(redirected from idiosyncrasies)
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a painful reaction that appears in certain persons to irritants that do not produce similar phenomena in the majority of others. The basis of idiosyncrasy is either a congenital increased sensitivity of the autonomic nervous system to particular irritants or a reaction that arises in the body as a result of the repeated weak action of certain substances that are incapable of stimulating antibody production in the body.
Idiosyncrasy differs from allergy in that it may develop even after the first contact with an intolerable irritant—for instance, simple chemical compounds that do not have the properties of allergens; such food products as fish, roe, crab, milk, eggs, and strawberries; such medications as amidopyrine, antibiotics, and sulfanilamide preparations; the pollens of certain flowers and plants; the odor of various animals; insect poisons; and such physical factors as sunstroke, chill, or trauma.
Soon after contact with the irritant, headache appears in the individual, and his temperature rises, sometimes accompanied by mental agitation, disruption of the function of the organs of digestion (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) and respiration (dyspnea, coryza), edema of the skin and mucosa, and urticaria. These phenomena, which are caused by disruptions of blood circulation, increased permeability of the vessels, and spasms of the smooth musculature, usually pass quickly, but sometimes may continue for several days. The reaction does not produce insen-sitivity to the repeated action of the agent. Treatment requires avoidance of further contact with the intolerable irritant and lowering the body’s heightened reactivity.
U. O. OL’SHANSKII