Rhinitis historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Fatimo Biobaku M.B.B.S [2]


Rhinitis is a frequent disease with varied etiology. It has been in existence since the ancient times, and some forms of rhinitis have been vaguely described as far back as the 9th century.

Historical Perspective

Rhinitis is a very common disease, and it consists of a heterogeneous group of disorders. Rhinitis has been described with terminologies such as "catarrh" as far back as the 15th century. The word "catarrh" was coined from the word "katarrhein" which means to flow down. The origin is from Greek(katarrhous), Middle English (catarre), Medieval French (catarrhe) and Late Latin(catarrhus). Rare descriptions of seasonal allergic rhinitis(hay fever) are seen in the 9th century in Islamic texts, and in the 16th century in European texts.[1] Hay fever is believed to have fully emerged with the industrialization of westernized countries in the 19th century.[1] The first detailed description of hay fever was in the early 19th century, and by the end of the 19th century, it was a common condition in Europe and North America.[1] The "hygiene hypothesis" became popular in the late 1980s, and the hypothesis linked the high prevalence of atopic disorders in developed countries to the lack of antigenic stimuli, which occurs as a result of improved hygiene, vaccination, and antibiotic use. Thus, the human immune system is altered such that it responds inappropriately to innocuous environmental substances.[2] Nonallergic Rhinitis with Eosinophilic Syndrome(NARES) was first described in 1981 by Jacobs et al.[3] Primary atrophic rhinitis has been well known for ages to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Indians. There is evidence that date wine and milk were prescribed for the treatment of primary atrophic rhinitis about 4000 years ago, in the ancient Egyptian medical text ( Edwin Smith Papyrus).[4] Primary atrophic rhinitis was first described by Bernhard Fraenkel in 1876.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bousquet J, Khaltaev N, Cruz AA, Denburg J, Fokkens WJ, Togias A; et al. (2008). "Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA) 2008 update (in collaboration with the World Health Organization, GA(2)LEN and AllerGen)". Allergy. 63 Suppl 86: 8–160. doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2007.01620.x. PMID 18331513.
  2. Kim DS, Drake-Lee AB (2003). "Infection, allergy and the hygiene hypothesis: historical perspective". J Laryngol Otol. 117 (12): 946–50. doi:10.1258/002221503322683812. PMID 14738603.
  3. Ellis AK, Keith PK (2006). "Nonallergic rhinitis with eosinophilia syndrome". Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 6 (3): 215–20. PMID 16579871.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Shehata MA (1996). "Atrophic rhinitis". Am J Otolaryngol. 17 (2): 81–6. PMID 8820180.

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