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La Rivista Italiana della Medicina di Laboratorio 2021 Oct 29

DOI: 10.23736/S1825-859X.21.00120-1


language: Italian

Hay fever in the works of John Bostock and Morrell Mackenzie. History, description, etiology and treatment during the nineteenth century

Giuliano DALL'OLIO

Montecchio Maggiore, Vicenza, Italia


The first description of a not serious but boring and unusual disease that affects the eyes, nose and throat in spring and summer, associated with profuse nasal discharge, repeated paroxysms of sneezing, itchy eyes, is attributed to the English physician John Bostock. The report on the disease, which is referred to as "hay fever" or "summer catarrh", is presented to the Royal Medical Society of London in 1819 as a "case report" of a patient, who turns out to be the author himself. During the nineteenth century, many other distinguished doctors, some of whom suffering themselves from the disease, deal with this seasonal disorder, ultimately attributed mainly to pollen from hay and other plants during flowering periods in the spring and summer. Laryngologist Morrell Mackenzie, in the last decades of the century, will publish a structured work on hay fever that runs through the research and studies of his colleagues as well as his personal ones. The result is an interesting historical review of the disease, and of the personages who contributed to the investigations to reveal its etiology, to study its symptoms, the diagnostic process, the prognosis, the pharmacological and palliative treatments, the implemented strategies and the achieved goals. Encouraging are the Mackenzie's conclusions that sees the introduction of cocaine in drug therapy as a relief for patients and a help for physicians.

KEY WORDS: Hay fever; Summer catarrh; Hay cold; Rose cold

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