Treatment of Hay Fever


SOME years ago Prof. Helmholtz, in a letter to you, gave an account of a remedy he had found for “hay fever.” This was simply to treat the part of the nose, which seems to be the seat of the trouble, with sulphate of quinine solution by pouring it into the nose with a pipette, while lying on a sofa with the head turned upside down. Having had the most enjoyable part of summer destroyed by hay fever ever since I can remember, I have tried every remedy I have heard of, including internal doses of arsenic, and I have found them all to fail. Prof. Helmholtz's method only gives me relief for ten minutes or so, and cold water does the same. I have tried solutions of sulphate of zinc and tannin, and many other astringents, but all to no purpose. As many others knew that I was experimenting upon myself in this matter, I have bad several patients trying all the remedies that I have tried, and I can therefore say with certainty that no remedy yet published will cure hay fever. I have however succeeded in finding a method which is a really effectual cure, and as I know that many are rendered miserable during the most enjoyable part of the year, I hasten to give them the benefit of the result of my inquiries. One thing which misled me was that my eyes were often very much inflamed and pained during an attack, and I often tried remedies for my eyes (which have sometimes gone wrong when I had no hay fever) when they were only affected in sympathy with my nose. I found that the only thing required was to prevent the entrance of the pollen grains into the nose. When there are not many in the air, as during or after rain, it is simply necessary to stop the nose with a spring clip. I have used a piece of brass or steel ribbon bent double, and having only sufficient spring to close the nostrils without undue pressure. This causes the patient to breathe by the mouth, but one soon gets accustomed to the inconvenience. I found that to stop the nostrils with cotton wool was far too irritating, especially as those afflicted with hay fever are so owing to the tenderness of the internal coating of the nose. When going amongst hay a further precaution must be taken, viz., plugging the ducts from the eyes. I used for this purpose dumb-bell shaped pieces of glass, which are easily slipped into the ducts, and can be removed when wanted. Thus protected, any one who is troubled by hay fever can go into the camp of the enemy and stir up hay in a field with as much impunity as one not troubled with this “sixth sense.” The season for hay fever is nearly passed now, but I hope that the publication of this note will be the cause of relief to many during next summer, and on that plea I ask its publication in your valuable journal, and I hope that medical men in the South of England, where hay fever is common, will give it a trial and report upon it next summer. In Scotland hay fever is practically unknown.

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HANNAY, J. Treatment of Hay Fever. Nature 24, 485 (1881).

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