Yep… Allergies are Real
By Jeff Salter
Goodness knows, I have several OTHER medical issues, but I never had the curse of ALLERGIES as a kid. [What little I even heard about allergies made them sound distant and esoteric — I don’t recall knowing any kids who had any.] In fact, to my best recollection, all the common plant allergies were lumped into a convenient category, HAY FEVER. And that made little sense to me, because I imagined most people were able to come and go in a typical day without encountering any hay.
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, medicine was an entirely different universe than it is now. Back then even the most ordinary things like decongestants and anti-histamines (and certain ointments) were available only by prescription. [And since no prescriptions were advertised, only the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists knew their names (or what they were for).] Conversely, in that same era there were tons of over-the-counter products which did little or no “good” but were widely used — like Castoria (the more “refined” version of Castor Oil) and Carter’s Little Liver Pills — and (oddly) apparently un-regulated.
One of the very first products I recall seeing advertised (on TV) was the miracle drug CONTAC — it purportedly “cured” colds and hay fever. If you were dying with the flu, those ads seemingly promised that one capsule would enable you to leap from your sick bed and carry on a full day of work and play — and put you in a great mood, to boot. And if you suffered from “hay fever” – whatever that was – this product would cure you as long as you popped another capsule every 12 hours.
Something cleverly overlooked – or more likely HIDDEN – by the advertisers was that CONTAC did not “cure” anything. It was merely a decongestant that temporarily assisted with your ability to breathe. In other words, it merely combated the SYMPTOMS of your illness or condition. That was a distinction lost on me back then… and (evidently) still lost on most of the consumer public even today.
Looking back on it, I suppose CONTAC was the earliest popular OTC daily “maintenance” medicine. Nowadays, daily maintenance drugs seem to be the norm. [Don’t get me started]
Before I digress too far, I was only trying to point out that (as a youngster) I did not experience allergies, didn’t know anybody who had any, and there were NOT 1001 products on the marketplace to combat them.
Then I got married.
Yeah, my wife had allergies. In fact, she came from a whole family of allergies to certain foods and/or plants. On both sides of her family, she had legacy allergies. Yet I remained a scoffer.
Until I spent the night at my Aunt’s and Uncle’s house (in Biloxi) and their cat decided to sleep on the pillow next to my face. [Though that cat slept on top of the television all day, I had been given use of the cat’s nighttime sleeping room, it seems.]
Anyhow, I awoke the next morning with a raw throat and totally congested nasal passages.
Got home after that Keesler AFB Drill Weekend and announced to my wife, “I’m a believer. I’m allergic to cats.”
Fast-forward several decades.
Now there are 1001 OTC products for allergies… in addition to ever more new prescription products to combat one or more symptoms.
And, apparently in the cruel way that karma rears up and slaps you down, I’m now apparently allergic to NUMEROUS things: including cigarette smoke, gluten, artificial sweeteners, and MSG.
So, these days when other people whine about allergies, I no longer scoff. I just put my arm around their shoulders and commiserate. Then I pull out my list of allergies and we compare notes.
Are YOU allergic to anything? For how long? What do you do for it?
[JLS # 328]