Tuesday, July 08, 2014

1876: Many names for hay-fever x

Prior to John Bostock defining hay fever for the medical community in 1819, hay fever seemed not to exist.  However, from our own history we know it probably did exist and was misdiagnosed as a cold, flu or some other such ailment.  Still, the term hay fever evolved as a term long before 1819, to the point that even Bostock himself labeled "hay fever" as an inapropriate name.  Yet it stuck nonetheless.

In the 1876 edition of his book, Morill Wyman noted that "at the time of the publication of the first edition (in 1872) of this Essay, the "June " or " Rose Cold " was the only form of annual catarrh generally known. Since then, the number of sufferers from the autumnal disease has apparently greatly increased, until they seem greatly to outnumber the others. That this apparent increase is in no small degree due to the greater knowledge, may be admitted. Still, there is reason to think that the disease is on the increase, and it may be that the cause of this increase is to be found in the change of condition and habits of the people of the northern section of the United States, and more particularly of New England, which seems to be the home of the disease." (1 page 101)

As the occurance of the disease rose, various names were used depending on the the season involved and the suspected exciting cause.  Edmund Holmes listed several of those names in his 1876 essay, "Summer Catarrh," and they were as follows: (2, page 200)
  • Hay-Fever
  • Summer-Fever
  • Rag-Weed Fever
  • Snow-Fever
  • Hay- Asthma
  • Rye-Asthma
  • Pollen-Asthma
  • PollenPoisoning
  • Pollen-Catarrh
  • Bostorck's Catarrh
  • Catarrhus iEstivus
  • Summer Catarrh
  • Summer Catarrh from Idiosyncrasy
  • Typical Early Summer Catarrh
  • Autumnal Catarrh
  • Summer Bronchitis
  • Rose-Cold
  • Peach Cold
  • Harvest Cold
  • June Cold
  • July Cold.
Chances are, as we read through the various books and articles on hay fever we'll come across enough unique names to double this list.  It must be considered that this was the beginning of knowledge of a disease that we now simply refer to as allergies. 

  1. Wyman, Morill, "Summer Catarrh," 1876 (first edition was published in 1872), New York, Hurd and Houghton
  2. Holmes, Edmund W., "Hay Fever," Philadelphia County Medical Society: Proceedeings," volume XVII, session of 1897, Augustus and

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