An Overview of Allergies and its History

When did allergies first appear?

Allergies were first documented in 2640 BC in a hieroglyphic – it reported the death of Pharaoh Menes of Egypt when he died of an anaphylactic shock from a wasp sting, but despite its discovery originating over thousands of years, a cure for allergies has yet to be materialized and there has been a very slow progression towards its scientific understanding. It was only until the 1800s when the study of allergies began.

Dr. Bostock’s discovery

In 1819, Dr. John Bostock was the first person to provide a detailed description of hay fever. He wondered why it was always at the month of June that he would begin to experience blocked sinuses and a general feeling of heaviness and tiredness since the age of eight – a timing that has always puzzled him. This motivated him to present a study where he laid out the symptoms of hay fever, of which are still applicable today.

An Overview of Allergies and its History

Is summertime the enemy?

Bostock was convinced that hay fever was caused by something in the summer and termed this ‘summer catarrh’. Parkinson wrote that Bostock thought that his suffering was “a recurring disease, exacerbated by the exhausting heat of summer”, but Bostock also suspected that it could be linked to hay and grasses – a suspicion we now know to be accurate.

He escaped the disease by moving to the seaside during the summer months and for three summers in a row, he found that his symptoms were not as aggravated. This could be explained by the sea air blowing away any pollen near its vicinity.

An Overview of Allergies and its History

Let’s get to know allergies

Causes

Allergies are a result of the body’s immune system having a hypersensitivity towards a specific food or substance, which can then trigger an allergic reaction. The most common allergens that trigger an allergic reaction are:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Mould
  • Wasps and bees
  • Pets
  • Industrial and household chemicals
  • Food – milk, nuts and eggs

Symptoms

The severity of these allergies can range from experiencing mild symptoms (runny nose, itchy and watery eyes) to a more severe and life-threatening reaction where the person can experience an anaphylactic shock. This is characterized by a variety of symptoms and these include:

  • Itching and hives over most of the body
  • Feeling warm
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue or tightness in throat
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Pain or cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shock
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal heart rate

Frequent or repeated exposure to an allergen can increase the severity of an allergic reaction.

An Overview of Allergies and its History

How common are they?

Allergies are very common in the UK as it affects more than 1 in 4 people and are even more common in children, although some children can grow out of an allergy, it is also possible for their allergy to be lifelong.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have estimated 2 million people in the UK to be living with a diagnosed food allergy, excluding those with food intolerance (e.g. lactose intolerance).

An Overview of Allergies and its History

How to boss all over your allergies

 Living with allergies can be hard as they can greatly affect one’s quality of life, but the availability of today’s treatments means that these frustrating symptoms and allergies can be managed so that you can continue to live your best life. The treatment plan you choose can depend on what your allergy is, your budget and your lifestyle. These treatments can be as simple as taking antihistamines or using a nasal spray and your GP is the best person to help you determine the best treatment suited to your needs.

Sentanase nasal spray has a version for kids and adults and can help in the daily management of symptoms triggered by hay fever, house dust mites and animal allergies!