That occurs during late spring and early summer due to the pollens of grasses is really the original hay fever. In the United States, ragweed may be public enemy number one in hay fever circles but in Europe, the grasses are still the hay fever big shots. Fall hay fever due to weeds is non-existent in Europe. When nations are not at war and the ocean lanes are safe, rich hay-feverites, sensitive to ragweed, will find absolute relief in Europe during August, September and October.
THE NAME HAY FEVER
The very name, hay fever, was originated in England when the symptoms were thought to occur in connection with the gathering of hay as a product of grass growth. This explains the “hay” part of the name, but the “fever” part remains a mystery. Fever is rarely an accompanying symptom of the ailment.
Here in the United States we associated June hay fever symptoms, caused by grasses, with the roses which bloom at that time. Thus we gave it the erroneous name “rose-fever” or “rose-cold.” Whoever did the naming didn’t know that the grasses were responsible. So he interpreted Shakespeare literally and took liberties with the name rose, figuring that it wouldn’t affect the reputation of the rose. But in this he was mistaken, for many allergics have since shied away from the rose and some even react to the rose on a purely psychological basis. That is, by test these per-sons give a negative reaction but when confronted with roses they manifest typical sneezing and itching symptoms. As was previously indicated, all the factual evidence shows that the rose and all other decorative flowers are not important factors in the cause of general hay fever symptoms.
STATUS OF GRASS HAY FEVER
Besides being the big vegetable in Europe, grass hay fever runs a close second in the United States. Figures show that a little less than half the people who have hay fever are sensitive to the pollens of grasses. And if you are sensitive to one kind of grass pollen you are undoubtedly sensitive to many species of grass pollen.
From the results of several tests it appears that the sub-stance in grass pollen that causes a hay fever reaction, is similar in the various species of grasses. One such experiment was conducted by Dr. August Thomen. He tested thirty sensitive patients with pollen extracts from 8i grasses and found positive reactions of varying degrees, to be present in each case. In eight normal individuals used as controls the tests were negative.
This knowledge of the interrelated effects of the pollens is used to advantage in the inoculative immunizing treatments. Because of this fact it is not usually necessary to know exactly which grass-pollen is causing the hay fever symptoms. If the doctor knows that it is a grass-pollen, that’s enough. He can then use a mixture of grass-pollen extracts for immunization purposes, or as is commonly done, he may use a single grass pollen extract.
To offset this advantage we have the disheartening in-formation that grasses grow all over the world; in every type of soil or climate; from the tropics to the arctic regions. Hay fever grasses are to be found in England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, China and India. In the United States there is one or more species of grasses whose pollens cause hay fever in every state of the Union. The only sure way to escape grass hay fever is to take an ocean voyage during the pollinating season. In the case of grasses we cannot conduct eradication campaigns as has been attempted with hay fever weeds. Grasses are the most valuable of all the flowering plants. They include the cereals such as corn, barley, rye, wheat, oats and rice, and many other species that furnish necessary foods for man and animals.