Other than the incident of King Menses of Egypt, another report from ancient history of allergies is that of Britannicus, the son of the Roman Emperor Claudius. He was allergic to horses and often developed a rash and his eyes swelled to the extent that he could not see where he went. Accordingly, the honour of riding at the head of the young patricians fell to Nero who was Claudius's adopted son. Nero allegedly threw Christians to the lions and killed Britannicus. Sir Thomas More also offers another authoritative account of allergy with King Richard III, who was allergic to strawberries. The King surreptitiously ate some strawberries just prior to giving an audience to Hastings and promptly developed acute urticaria. He then accused Hastings of dictating a curse on him, an action that demanded the head of Hastings on a plate.
The history of allergy unveils that the term allergies come from the etymology of the term "allergy". It was introduced in 1906 by the Viennese pediatrician Clemens von Pirquet, after he noted that some of his patients were hypersensitive to normally harmless entities such as dust, pollen, or certain foods. Pirquet called this phenomenon "allergy" and derived the term from the Greek words also meaning "other" and ergon meaning, "work"
In ancient India, all forms of antipathy were classified as allergies, and all were caused by an improper activation of the immune system and natural herbs and minerals were believed to be the common treatment for allergies. Much later, it became clear that several different disease mechanisms were mixed up, with the common link to a disordered activation of the immune system. After many researchers in India since decades, allergy was described to be a hyperactive response of the immune system to certain substances, which are "foreign" to the human bodies. These substances are called "allergens", and they can range from food and pollen to dust and drugs. The year was 1963 a remarkable discovery by Philip Gell and Robin Coombs added a whole new facet to the treatment procedure for allergies. A new classification scheme was introduced which stated four types of hypersensitivity reactions, known as Type I to Type IV hypersensitivity. With this new classification, the word "allergy" was restricted to only type I hypersensitivities, also known as immediate hypersensitivity, which are characterised as rapidly developing reactions. In the history of allergies, a major breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of allergy was the discovery of the antibody class labeled immunoglobulin E (IgE). Kimishige Ishizaka and his colleagues were the first to describe IgE in the 1960s.
This discovery aided the treatment for allergy to take a leap forward and in India also many experiments and researches changed the rigidity of allergic problems and started a new era in the history of allergy. Experiments said that there is an allergic reaction every time the body is exposed to the allergen. The allergen sticks to the antibodies on the surface of the allergy cells and this coupling causes the granula or little stores in the allergy cells to release histamine, which eventually causes the symptoms of allergy. Depending on the size of the exposure to the allergen and where on the body it happens, there will be an allergic reaction in the form of hay fever, asthma or nettle rash. The histamine dilates the blood vessels, thus causing the mucous membranes swell due to the liquid leaking and stimulates the glands in the nose and the respiratory passages to produce mucus or phlegm. A wide range of substances and conditions were also held responsible for causing allergic reactions.
Researches unfolded the fact that allergy in India is mostly caused by dietetic errors and faulty lifestyle. Feeding babies are given artificial foodstuff like cereals, meat, corns, whole milk and others. Instead of mother's milk, before they reach the age of 10 to 12 months. Without proper enzymes that are required for the digestion of such food at a very young age, these foods cause allergic reactions. Present day, in India, the treatment of allergies is most commonly directed at checking the immune response, or in more severe cases, at suppressing the entire immune function with steroids, both of systemic and topical types
(Last Updated on : 05-03-2009)
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