Hay Fever

My flatmate suffers from hay fever. It’s pretty tough stuff, perhaps only those who have got it understand how hard it is. My mother has been suffering from it for several years, too. Usually she cannot let alone the box of tissues between March and July. The amount of consumption of tissue paper is gigantic. A box of 100 tissue disappears in a day or two. In the house I live now, I’ve always wondered where the hell the toilet rolls disappear in our toilet – a pack of 12 rolls vanishs after 2 weeks. Now I know why.

This condition, together with the pharmaceutical marketing raid, makes me wonder how all this has come about. I guess no one in our society heard of hay fever 20 years ago? I may be wrong in this. But in Japanese, this condition is called kahun-sho <literal words roughly signifiy ‘pollen syndrome’>, which became widely known only in the mid- to late-eighties. These days it is said to have many different kinds of pollens that trigger off the hay fever, but those days it was attributed only to ceder trees. There must be a hurd of theories as to why and how it is caused. What is your theory?

I’ve only noticed recently that there are a range of medicine for the condition you can buy over the counter. I’m not going to list all these product names, but certainly it’s becoming a huge market, as, perhaps statistically shown already?, the population of hay fever sufferers increase every year. You can get tablets, nose spray, or cream that you can rub into your skin. The effect of the medicine lasts perhaps between a few hours to 24 hours (according to one adverts). Some of them specify as hay fever ‘cure’ and others bundle some associated symptoms together to say something like "frees you from vigorous sneezing, throat irritations, blocked-headedness, and (even) headache." Mmm, sounds attractive, huh?

What interests me is to know how many people actually ‘believe’ what they say on the tin. For instance, how do you make a choice when you’re purchasing hay-fever medicine? Do you decide by adverts, or simply by recommendation of the pharmacist at the counter? Or, do you actually look up the conposition of the medicinal substances on the back of the pack?

My next question would be "what happens after you took them?" Presumably, they take effect sooner or later, and will last for sometime. But as far as I know, there seems to be no ‘cure’ for hay fever as yet in medicine. Thus, the likelihood is that people have to continue taking it as long as the pollen-season lasts. That seems to be heck a lot of effort (and money) put into caring the hay fevered body. Do people take notice of this? How do they make sense of the discrepancy between taking medicine to alleviate the symptoms and the continued suffering? Does it make them re-think what they are taking and what they are taking them for? If you are one of the unfortunate hay-fever sufferers, let me know your perception of the reality.

Alternatively, if you suffer from hay fever and do something about it other than taking over-the-counter medicines, I would be very much interested to know that. I guess there are many people interested, too. So let us share your wisdom!


About Dr Kats

a working sociologist/linguist/translator based in Kobe, Japan
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