The History of Allergies

Allergy Times

Allergies? What's that?

An allergy is a condition in which the immune system of the body (the part of the body that works hard to fight infections and keep your body healthy) reacts abnormally to a substance. For example, if you are allergic to pollen, you will experience symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, etc.

The Earliest Account of An Allergy

Allergies are considered modern. Before the 20th century, symptoms for allergies just came and went from time to time because of unknown causes ("Early Reports of Allergies"). The earliest report of allergies may have been the report of the death of King Menses of Egypt, who was killed by the sting of a wasp, between 3640 and 3300 BC ("Early Reports of Allergies"). King Menses was definitely allergic to wasps, but nobody knew.

Who First Coined Allergies?

The term "allergy" was first coined by a paediatrician named Clemens von Pirquet in 1906 ("Clements Von Pirquet"). Allergy is a named that came from two Greek words: allos which meant altered and ergia which meant reactivity ("Clements Von Pirquet"). Therefore, an allergy is when there is an altered reaction to a specific substance that normally shouldn't be harmful ("Clements Von Pirquet").

The Creation of Antihistamines

During a chemical reaction, the immune system releases a chemical that causes symptoms. This chemical is called a histamine. An antihistamine is what blocks histamines and attempts to subdue the symptoms of an allergic reaction. It was established in 1932 that histamines were causes of allergic reactions ("The First Antihistamine"). The very first antihistamine (called thymoxidiethylamine) ever created was created by Daniel Bover and his student, Anne Marie Staub ("The First Antihistamine"). However, that thymoxidiethylamine was too toxic to be used so Bovet continued his experiments ("The First Antihistamine"). In 1944, he discovered mepyramine, a safe, effect, and very important antihistamine that was soon introduced to the public ("The First Antihistamine"). Thanks to his fundamental discoveries, scientists have been able to further research allergies.

Allergies Today

Thanks to important researchers like Daniel Bovet, Clements von Pirquet, etc. allergies have become easier to control. Treatments like antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids have been helping those who are suffering all throughout the world. Back when King Menses of Egypt was sting by a wasp, nobody even knew about his allergy but now and in the future, because of all the research on allergies over the past century, allergies can be overcome.