Thursday, June 05, 2014

1872: Wyman's two types of hay fever

Hay fever was early on determined to be a false name for the disease that causes itchy and watery throat and eyes, and difficulty breathing in many.  Yet the name stuck.  After being diagnosed in 1833 with hay fever, Dr. Morrill Wyman performed extensive studies on the disease and concluded that there were basically two types:
  1. Autumnal Catarrh: Often referred to as catarrhus autumnalis and occurs in August and September
  2. Summer Catarrh:  Often referred to as Rose cold, June cold and occurs in May and June (1, page 1)
Yet he actually defines a third type, and that would be hay fever that occurs in Europe.  He determines European hay fever, or hay asthma as it's often called, offers it's patients with the same symptoms of the above two types, but the cause must be different.  (1, page 1-6)

The reason he suspects this is because people inflicted with hay fever in the United States aren't bothered when they go to Europe, and those who have hay fever in Europe are fine when they come to the U.S. So it appears, to Wyman, that the two types of hay fever have unique causes.  (1, page 1-6)

After Charles Blackley discovered pollen and cereals to be the cause of hay fever, there still seemed to be a unique cause in European hay fevers as compared to American hay fevers. Yet he did prove that light, heat, dust, hay and roses were not the cause, and the terms hay fever and rose fever were inappropriate. (1, page 1-6)

He also supposed, as other physicians already suspected, that hay fever must not be confused for other ailments, such as bronchitis, chronic catarrh, and asthma.  I also suspect that hay fever may have often been confused for a common cold, but that was probably also diagnosed as bronchitis or catarrh back in Wyman's day.  (1, page 57)

  1. Wyman, Morill, "Autumnal catarrh," 1876 (first edition 1872), New York, Hurd and Houghton

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