The increasing ease with which we treat allergic rhinitis (hayfever) can betray the fact that, once, we had no idea what was causing the symptoms that we now know to be synonymous with hayfever. The journey to this point has been long and has seen more than its share of casualties. While we do not yet have a cure for hayfever, allergy testing now allows us to identify and manage it to the point where they no longer necessarily need to have such a significant impact.
For hundreds and thousands of years, medical professionals have documented symptoms that we now suspect were the earliest evidence of the experience of hayfever. A lack of knowledge saw these symptoms diagnosed as other conditions and, despite treatment, continue to impact the sufferer and, in many cases, result in death.
Hayfever was first identified in the 1800s by Dr. John Bostock. Bostock was a British physician hailing from The Beatles hometown of Liverpool. Suffering from sinus blockage and a general feeling of unwellness every June since he was eight years old, he had long ruminated on the recurrent nature of his symptoms. So, in 1819, he presented a study on a patient known only as “JB” (it was actually a study on himself), which explained his symptoms and the treatments he had tried, including self-induced vomiting and taking opiates. Bostock dedicated the rest of his career exploring this phenomenon, eventually coining naming the condition “summer catarrh.”
As his study gained interest, he spoke of an emerging theory that the symptoms were “produced by the smell from new hay, and it has hence obtained the popular name of hayfever.” Ironically, Bostock didn’t agree with this theory and instead continued to believe it was a disease that was made worse by the heat of summer.
The first experience of hayfever symptoms has us reaching for a drug that has a significant, rapid impact. Swiss doctor Daniel Bovet discovered antihistamines in 1937. He said he was “fascinated” by the fact that no product had ever been produced that could counter the effects of histamine in the human body. After over 3,000 experiments, he found a chemical formula for this product that had evaded scientists since the discovery of allergy in the early 1900s.
Ever since it’s discovery way back in the 1800’s, science has been seeking a way to rid the human body of its allergy to pollen finally. Scientists in Austria now postulate that they believe that they’re now just a matter of years away from a cure. The vaccine would require an annual top-up, but studies so far show a complete relief of the symptoms that plague 1 in 4 people in the US. They also believe this cure could be manipulated to treat other allergies.
The Importance of allergy testing
Until this cure is found, avoiding these symptoms begins with allergy testing. Identifying a potential case of hayfever can be the difference between a lousy summer and great summer. We offer allergy testing to suit all budgets.