Hay Fever, Hay Asthma
HAY FEVER, HAY ASTHMA, or SUMMER CATARRH, a catarrhal affection of the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract, due to the action of the pollen of certain grasses. It is often associated with asthmatic attacks. The disease affects certain families, and is hereditary in about one-third of the cases. It is more common among women than men, city than country dwellers, and the educated and highly nervous than the lower classes. It has no connexion with the coryzas that are produced in nervous people by the odour of cats, etc. The complaint has been investigated by Professor W. P. Dunbar of Hamburg, who has shown that it is due to the pollens of certain grasses (notably rye) and plants, and that the severity of the attack is directly proportional to the amount of pollen in the air. He has isolated an albuminoid poison which, when applied to the nose of a susceptible individual, causes an attack, while there is no result in the case of a normal person. By injecting the poison into animals, he has obtained an anti-toxin, which is capable of aborting an attack of hay fever. The symptoms are those commonly experienced in the case of a severe cold, consisting of headache, violent sneezing and watery discharge from the nostrils and eyes, together with a hard dry cough, and occasionally severe asthmatic paroxysms. The period of liability to infection naturally coincides with the pollen season.
The radical treatment is to avoid vegetation. Local treatment consisting of thorough destruction of the sensitive area of the mucous membrane of the nose often produces good results. There are various drugs, the best of which are cocaine and the extract of the suprarenal body, which, when applied to the nose, are sometimes effectual; in practice, however, it is found that larger and larger doses are required, and that sooner or later they afford no relief. The same remarks apply to a number of patent specifics, of which the principal constituent is one of the above drugs. An additional and stronger objection to the use of cocaine is that a " habit " is often contracted, with the most disastrous results. Finally Dunbar's serum may be applied to the nose and eyes on rising, and on the slightest suggestion of irritation during the day; it will, in the large majority of cases, be found to be quite effectual.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)