We’ve heard it before, “They didn’t have allergies in my day…” and I always feel a little like people are saying this and thinking I’m making it up. As if in their day people were healthier and just got on with things.
I do think that many modern influences have caused a rise in allergies including processed food, excessive hygiene and cleanliness, chemicals in buildings and foods, GM crops, stress, drugs, I could go on…
However allergies are not a new phenomenon. They have been around for many hundreds, maybe even thousands of years but they are steadily on the increase.
Here are five proofs that allergies are not so new:
- ‘The itch’ is mentioned in the bible in many places and whether you believe its teachings or not, the books were written many thousands of years ago. It’s not new to plagued by itches and sores.
- Birds Custard was invented in 1837 by Alfred Bird for his wife, who suffered from a bad allergy to eggs and so couldn’t eat the traditional custards of that time. I wrote about this in a previous blog post, Birds Custard invented because of egg allergy
- Dr Bill Frankland is an amazing man, an allergy doctor and still practising as an allergy specialist at the age of 99. He invented the pollen count scale and has been working, researching and treating allergies for his whole career. Read more about Bill in another old blog post, 99 year old allergy specialist doctor nearing 100th birthday and still practising.
- Leonard Noon and John Freeman invented immunotherapy in the UK back in the 1900’s yet this often life changing treatment is rarely available on the NHS in the country that invented it. There are some counties where you can get it but it isn’t widely available. If you can afford it you can get the treatment privately, yet in most of Europe and America it’s standard treatment to get your ‘allergy shots’. Read more about this in a previous blog post Bring back immunotherapy for allergies
- The earliest known report of an allergy was that of King Menses of Egypt, who died after a wasp sting some time between 3640 and 3300 BC.
I think this is really interesting to know and comforting to hear that it’s not a new thing. It’s been happening for thousands of years with no real worldwide available cure. Looking back at my ancestors health as part of our family tree research we’ve discovered that a few generations back our family had asthma. Back then it would have been a very debilitating condition – I don’t want to imagine my life without inhalers.
Despite all this the world seems to be set on a course of progress which would appear to be making allergies far more common and the reactions people get very severe. Next time people say to you “we didn’t have allergies in our day…” reply by telling them that there were indeed allergies in their day but that they were just very lucky not to have them or know anyone with allergies.
Even now, despite the rise in allergies, awareness and understanding amongst the general population and even GPs and doctors is pretty poor. Perhaps it’s no surprise that even back then, our ancestors would have been being told it was all in their head and facing the same ignorance as we do today.
Just remember. You are not alone, you are not making this up and it is not your fault!