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    Hay Fever
    1234 · 20 min read

    History of Hay Fever: A Guide to Hay Fever Through the Years

    Hay fever is one of the most well-known conditions in the world due to how common it is. But have you ever wondered about the history of this sneeze-inducing allergy? Who first identified it? When did it become a recognised medical condition? In this article, we will explore the history of hay fever, covering everything from its symptoms and causes to its discovery as well as its treatment throughout the years.

    What is hay fever?

    Hay fever is a type of allergic reaction that affects the mucus membranes of the nose and eyes. When someone who is allergic to certain allergens comes into contact with them it triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals in their bodies, leading to them having an allergic reaction. This causes a number of different symptoms that vary between people. The most common symptoms of hay fever reactions include sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and irritation. 

    What causes hay fever?

    Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction in the body caused by certain airborne substances. These substances are called allergens. The most common allergen for sufferers of hay fever is the pollen that comes from trees, grass or weeds. There are a number of different allergens that can also cause hay fever symptoms including dust, dust mites, animal hair, mould and certain foods. When these allergens are inhaled the immune system mistakes them for harmful substances and creates an antibody in response. This triggers the release of histamine which thus causes the symptoms of hay fever. 

    What is allergic rhinitis?

    Simply put, allergic rhinitis is another name for hay fever. The term rhinitis refers to the inflammation of the nasal mucus membranes that causes hay fever symptoms such as a runny nose and itching. Allergic rhinitis is a certain type of rhinitis that is caused by an allergic reaction to airborne allergens such as pollen, dust and animal hair. There are other types of rhinitis including infectious rhinitis which is caused by viruses and bacteria and non-allergic rhinitis which is caused by smoke and fumes.

    How many people in the UK are affected by hay fever?

    In the United Kingdom, it is believed that around 20% of people will suffer from hay fever in some form. This number means that around 13 million people will have some form of hay fever in the UK. The severity of hay fever will vary amongst this number of people as symptoms can be relatively minor to severe. The allergen that affects people the most will also vary, with some being affected more at different times of the year. Hay fever season and the type of pollen that affects people most will vary across different times of the year. For more information, check out our previous article on hay fever season which includes a guide to pollen types throughout the year.

    How many adults in the UK are affected by hay fever?

    Is it thought that around 1 in 5 adults in the United Kingdom will suffer from some form of hay fever. Of the estimated 68 million people in the United Kingdom, around 52 million of them are aged 18 years or older. This means that around 10 million of these people will suffer from hay fever. 

    How many children in the UK are affected by hay fever?

    Around 1 in 5 children (people under the age of 18) will also suffer from some form of hay fever. It is a rough estimate that there are around 16 million people under the age of 18 in the UK. This means that around 3 million children will have some form of hay fever. 

    Who discovered hay fever?

    The medical description of ‘hay fever’ was first provided by John Bostock, an English physician who wrote the description in 1819. He was the first person to write down the description of the symptoms of the condition, however, he did not refer to it as hay fever. 

    How did John Bostock come up with the name "hay fever"?

    Although he was the first person that described the symptoms of hay fever, he was not the person that gave it its name. Bostock instead referred to the condition as summer catarrh. The term hay fever was actually coined by British doctor Charles Blackley in 1873. He was also the first to identify pollen as the main cause of hay fever. 

    Did John Bostock find a cure for hay fever?

    John Bostock was born in 1773 and died in 1846. He was the first person to describe the symptoms of hay fever and spent a lot of his life researching the condition. Unfortunately, he was not able to find a cure or create a treatment. Despite ongoing research, there is still no definitive cure for hay fever.

    How long ago did hay fever treatments exist?

    Treatments for hay fever have been around for roughly the last century. The first antihistamine, Diphenhydramine, was discovered in the 1940s and became available for use in the 1950s. Since then, many more antihistamines have been developed, as well as other medications like decongestants, corticosteroids, and immunotherapy.

    What is the modern-day understanding of hay fever?

    The modern-day understanding of hay fever is that it is an allergic reaction that can be triggered by a variety of environmental allergens. This is information that we have learned through years of research and far surpasses the knowledge of John Bostock in 1819.

    How did the discovery of pollen impact the understanding of hay fever?

    The discovery of pollen played a significant role in the understanding of hay fever. Before pollen was discovered no one knew why hay fever symptoms occurred, however, after pollen was discovered by Charles Blackley more research could be conducted into potential treatments for hay fever.

    What is the prevalence of hay fever across Europe?

    The prevalence of hay fever across the continent of Europe is varied. Factors such as pollen counts contribute to how many people are affected. It is thought that roughly 30% of the population of Europe will experience some form of hay fever. This is around 224 million people.

    Can hay fever be cured?

    Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for hay fever at the time of writing. Despite this, there are a number of very effective medications that can completely negate hay fever symptoms for even the most affected sufferers.

    Where can I get hay fever treatment online?

    You can purchase a wide variety of different hay fever treatments online from UK Meds including prescription strength options such as fexofenadine, an antihistamine medication, or avamys, a nasal spray as well as many others. There are also over the counter hayfever medications which do not require a prescription, such as Piriton allergy tablets and Beconase. Some medications come in the form of eye drops or nasal sprays. Some of these medications include: Relestat Eye Drops, Ryaltris Nasal Spray, Alomide Eye Drops (Lodoxamide), Olopatadine Eye Drops, Benadryl Allergy Relief (Acrivastine) and Opticrom Eye Drops (sodium cromoglicate).

    Sources

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    Related Products

    preview
    From £8.99
    • Controls allergic reactions
    • Offers relief from symptoms
    • Effective hay fever treatment
    preview
    From £9.99
    • Antihistamine medication to treat hay fever
    • Relieves runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing
    • Offers effective relief
    preview
    From £22.99
    • Effective treatment for hay fever
    • Nasal spray to relieve blocked or runny nose
    • Works in as little as 8 hours

    Blog author

    Scott Weaver

    Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.

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