Adventures in Science: Interview with Leone N. Claman
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00:00:13.000 --> 00:00:17.000 Watson Davis: Our Adventures in Science guest today is Dr. Leone N. Claman,
00:00:17.000 --> 00:00:22.000 Watson Davis: Attending Physician in charge of allergy at the New York Infirmary.
00:00:22.000 --> 00:00:28.000 Watson Davis: Dr. Claman is talking on this program as a member of the American Foundation for Allergic Diseases.
00:00:28.000 --> 00:00:33.000 Watson Davis: Now, first of all, I think Dr. Claman, we better find out what allergies are.
00:00:33.000 --> 00:00:35.000 Watson Davis: I know there's a lot of things I'm allergic to.
00:00:35.000 --> 00:00:40.000 Watson Davis: But that's not exactly what you mean when -- by allergic diseases, is it?
00:00:40.000 --> 00:00:47.000 Leone N. Claman: No, it isn't. The word allergy actually by definition means an altered reactivity.
00:00:47.000 --> 00:00:55.000 Leone N. Claman: In other words, some people sneeze when lots of other people don't when they inhale certain things that are in the air.
00:00:55.000 --> 00:01:03.000 Leone N. Claman: Other people get hives. In other words, their skin or their noses or their lungs behave in an abnormal fashion.
00:01:03.000 --> 00:01:07.000 Watson Davis: Well, are there very many other people that have allergies, Dr Claman?
00:01:07.000 --> 00:01:15.000 Leone N. Claman: Well I regret to say that there are about one in every ten in this country who are allergic in some way or other.
00:01:15.000 --> 00:01:17.000 Watson Davis: About 17 million or thereabouts?
00:01:17.000 --> 00:01:18.000 Leone N. Claman: Just about.
00:01:18.000 --> 00:01:23.000 Watson Davis: Well no wonder people are worried about it, 'cause it does affect a lot of people,
00:01:23.000 --> 00:01:29.000 Watson Davis: and it certainly has gotten into the language, this matter of being allergic to things,
00:01:29.000 --> 00:01:32.000 Watson Davis: perhaps we had better ask you what can we do about some of these things?
00:01:32.000 --> 00:01:35.000 Watson Davis: Can we do anything?
00:01:35.000 --> 00:01:46.000 Leone N. Claman: Yes we can very definitely do something about them. The first thing is, to recognize an allergic condition, the diagnosis of an allergic disease must be made, and made early.
00:01:46.000 --> 00:01:49.000 Leone N. Claman: There are ways by which the diagnosis can be confirmed.
00:01:49.000 --> 00:02:07.000 Leone N. Claman: The history of the illness, the family history, the appearance of symptoms sometimes during certain seasons or when in contact with certain animals or fabrics or drugs or foods is a very important thing.
00:02:07.000 --> 00:02:16.000 Watson Davis: Well, Dr. Claman, you mentioned that you got to catch it early. Actually children are very subject to allergies, aren't they?
00:02:16.000 --> 00:02:20.261 Leone N. Claman: Well, I think that's one way of putting it. I think another way of --
00:02:22.000 --> 00:02:56.000 Leone N. Claman: "Expressing it would be that the first manifestations of allergic disease often appear in very early childhood or infancy. And our feeling is that if they can be recognized, diagnosed, and treated at that time before there were any complications, that a great deal will have been accomplished. In that way, the child can develop as normally as possible and not go on piling one complication upon another upon the basic allergic condition."
00:02:56.000 --> 00:03:05.000 Watson Davis: " Well, you mean to say that if a person does have an allergy when a child, it doesn't necessarily have to have it all the years of his life. Leone N. Claman:
00:03:05.000 --> 00:03:59.000
" No, he doesn't, but one of the unhappy things about allergic disease is that they have a certain
[SILENCE] progression. The first manifestation of allergic disease in early childhood is usually eczema or "ex-ee-ma" if you prefer to pronounce it that way. It's a skin rash which itches. At a later date, the next manifestation which often appears is that of rhinitis or hay fever, sneezing, itching eyes and nose, running eyes and nose. The next thing in the progress, the allergic progression, is the appearance of asthma. And at any time in between, hives will appear. In other words, if an individual has eczema as an infant, is untreated, has hay fever as a young or middle-aged child, and is untreated, will probably develop asthma.
00:03:59.000 --> 00:04:16.000 Watson Davis: " Well, uh, the fact that they can be treated and, uh, get some relief is rather encouraging but I think it's a little discouraging, isn't it, that you're not, don't have the same kind of, uh, allergy throughout life. You may have this progression. I didn't know that, that's very interesting.
00:04:16.000 --> 00:04:23.461 Leone N. Claman: " Well, it sounds a little pessimistic. That is the sort of thing which happens when people aren't treated. But if you can get that baby when the eczema appears, if you can find out what causes the eczema. Whether its food or something in contact with the skin as soap or a fabric, or a woolen blanket
00:04:25.000 --> 00:04:37.000 Leone N. Claman: find out what causes the eczema, whether it's a food or something in contact with the skin: a soap or a fabric, a woolen blanket, or a rayon comforter, or something of that sort.
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If you can find what foods are causing it, and if you can help the baby to recover from the eczema at that time, then watch carefully, uh..being aware of the things that may happen, you may be able to do a very good prophylactic job, and prevent this progression of events from becoming inevitable.
00:04:57.000 --> 00:05:16.000 Watson Davis: Well that's very encouraging. Uh...I have heard it said...I've just heard this once, Dr.Claman, that actually it was a case of a husband being allergic to his wife. (laughs) A pretty serious situation I would say. What do you do in a case like that. Or have you ever had cases like that?
00:05:16.000 --> 00:05:28.000 Leone N. Claman: Well yes I have and it wasn't an emotional thing. In a couple of instances, it was cosmetics that the wife was using that were at fault and the husband wasn't allergic to her at all...just to her cosmetics.
00:05:28.000 --> 00:05:40.000 Watson Davis: Well that was promising and encouraging. And she stopped using those particular cosmetics and they lived happily ever after? Leone N. Claman: Forever and ever.
00:05:40.000 --> 00:05:59.000 Watson Davis: Well that's very nice. How bout dogs. Sometimes dogs are causes of allergies, aren't they? Leone N. Claman: Yes, uh...dogs, cats, birds, household pets, or the...sometimes people are even allergic to human dander or dandruff or the little scales of skin that come from the scalp.
00:05:59.000 --> 00:06:11.000 Watson Davis: Feathers? Leone N. Claman: Feathers. And of course parakeets are very popular now and people sometimes people forget that parakeets have feathers, but they do and sometimes people are feather sensitive can't be happy with a parakeet.
00:06:11.000 --> 00:06:38.022 Watson Davis: And dust? Leone N. Claman: Well dust is a sort of universal thing in that it consists of all the hairs: human, animal, all the bits of feathers, all the bits of fabric, all the cleaning material, cosmetics, anything that's in a home environment eventually finds its way into the dust of that home, so uh...by starting off with dust, you start off with a sort of stock mixture of things and
00:06:39.000 --> 00:07:08.000 Leone N. Claman: and try to develop immunity, you see, the actual specific treatment of allergic disease is really an immunizing treatment. The injections of a small dilute amount of the very substance that causes the symptoms, is really, an immunizing treatment. We don't speak of it anymore of it being desensitization it was an ambiguous word. But when you think of it as building up the resistance of the individual. It's truly an immunizing process.
00:07:08.000 --> 00:07:24.000 Watson Davis: Well some of these immunizing agents are more or less standard and you can get them out of the hospital's laboratory but some of them you really have to make from the agent that you really find is causing the trouble.
00:07:24.000 --> 00:07:35.000 Leone N. Claman: Yes, it's not at all uncommon, in fact, it's quite usual, for the doctor to ask the patient to collect his own house dust, and bring it in, and then have it made into an extract that can be used for treatment.
00:07:35.000 --> 00:07:40.000 Watson Davis: And that also applies to some of the pollens and that sort of thing.
00:07:40.000 --> 00:07:52.000 Leone N. Claman: Those are available, yes. Pollens and animal danders and feathers and kapok and cotton seed and the various things that are used in stuffing or upholstery.
00:07:52.000 --> 00:08:00.000 Watson Davis: Actually, years ago I wrote a story about it wasn't the goldenrod that caused hay fever, but ragweed.
00:08:00.000 --> 00:08:01.000 Leone N. Claman: How very good.
00:08:01.000 --> 00:08:19.000 Watson Davis: And well this was very, this was some years ago and believe it or not, the copy desk of the newspaper I was working on, knew so much better than I did that they changed my story and restored goldenrod to my story. Much to my regret, and much to their regret later on.
00:08:19.000 --> 00:08:26.000 Leone N. Claman: Yes. Watson Davis: But it is true that it is ragweed, in the fall at least, that causes some hay fever.
00:08:26.000 --> 00:08:39.320 Leone N. Claman: Yes. In this part of the country we have a great deal of ragweed and one of the reasons it creates a great many complications and symptoms is that the ragweed pollen is very light. And can travel for over a hundred miles on gust of wind.
00:08:40.000 --> 00:08:45.000 Leone N. Claman: So that in eradicating ragweed, some people have tried to do it,
00:08:45.000 --> 00:08:49.000 Leone N. Claman: it doesn't do very much good just to get it out of your own back yard, or the street on which you live.
00:08:49.000 --> 00:08:54.000 Leone N. Claman: Because the first wind storm can bring in showers and showers of the ragweed pollen.
00:08:54.000 --> 00:08:57.000 Watson Davis: It's almost got to be a regional or national attempt.
00:08:57.000 --> 00:08:58.000 Leone N. Claman: Almost total.
00:08:58.000 --> 00:09:05.000 Watson Davis: reduce the ragweed. Uh air-conditioning is some help I believe isn't it? I mean if...
00:09:05.000 --> 00:09:12.000 Leone N. Claman: Yes air-conditioning is a of a great help, in that you can control the air in which the, uh the room in which the patient sleeps very often
00:09:12.000 --> 00:09:17.000 Leone N. Claman: if they can have a comfortable night's rest they can battle with their symptoms during the day.
00:09:17.000 --> 00:09:22.000 Watson Davis: And then it is true though that these are real difficulties, they are not imaginary at all
00:09:22.000 --> 00:09:26.000 Leone N. Claman: No they are not imaginary, they're very real. Watson Davis: Not even psychosomatic, are they?
00:09:26.000 --> 00:09:33.000 Leone N. Claman: Well, I, I'm glad you asked that, I could talk for two, three days about that, if you'd let me, but I'll try and condense it,
00:09:33.000 --> 00:09:40.000 Leone N. Claman: uh you see every patient has a psyche as well as a soma, you can't divorce one from the other
00:09:40.000 --> 00:09:44.000 Leone N. Claman: uh, um medicine, good medicine has always tried to treat the whole patient.
00:09:44.000 --> 00:09:47.000 Leone N. Claman: I, I think that any illness, or any disability
00:09:47.000 --> 00:09:52.000 Leone N. Claman: is uh exaggerated or minimized by the psyche of the patient who has it
00:09:52.000 --> 00:09:55.000 Leone N. Claman: or the temperament, shall we say, or personality
00:09:55.000 --> 00:10:02.000 Leone N. Claman: Some people tend to exaggerate, others tend to, uhm . . . belittle their symptoms.
00:10:02.000 --> 00:10:07.000 Leone N. Claman: Some people tend to use their symptoms as weapons, or as thrones
00:10:07.000 --> 00:10:12.000 Leone N. Claman: and so, uh I think you must be very very careful in distinguishing,
00:10:12.000 --> 00:10:17.000 Leone N. Claman: between the cause of a disease, which is not psychic, or psychogenic
00:10:17.000 --> 00:10:20.000 Leone N. Claman: and and the effects that are superimposed
00:10:20.000 --> 00:10:26.000 Leone N. Claman: by the virtue of the personality, emotion, temperament, or psyche of the individual who has the disease,
00:10:26.000 --> 00:10:33.000 Leone N. Claman: uh I think it's unfortunate that the idea was so firmly seated in many people's minds
00:10:33.000 --> 00:10:39.000 Leone N. Claman: that all allergy was an emotional thing, uh it is not so. Definitely not so.
00:10:39.000 --> 00:10:42.000 Watson Davis: That's one of the reasons why the.
00:10:42.000 --> 00:10:41.678
00:10:42.000 --> 00:10:58.000 Watson Davis: ...the practitioner's, the medical men and women, who are treating allergy have gotten together to support along with Claman, this "American Foundation for Allergic Diseases". Actually, it has not been organized very long has it?
00:10:58.000 --> 00:11:10.000 Leone N. Claman: No, it got underway in about 1953. It started its organization, it's really -uh- coming along very well. Would you like to hear the objectives of the foundation?
00:11:10.000 --> 00:11:15.000 Watson Davis: Well, I think it would be, I guess you're against allergy, aren't you? Both: Laugh
00:11:15.000 --> 00:11:28.000 Leone N. Claman: Well- Watson Davis: What are the objectives Dr. Claman? Leone N. Claman: Well, there is a very great necessity for basic research in allergic disease and one of the objectives is to stimulate -uh- basic research.
00:11:28.000 --> 00:11:39.000 Leone N. Claman: And then there is a necessity for increased professional training in the medical schools, -uh- there, there must be more, and more thorough, and better teaching of allergic diseases in the medical schools.
00:11:39.000 --> 00:11:51.000 Leone N. Claman: Then, -uh- it is hoped to extend hospital and clinical facilities for allergic patients so that there are more beds set aside for them under controlled conditions of environment too.
00:11:51.000 --> 00:12:00.000 Leone N. Claman: And eventually a home care program some time in the future which will give financial assistance to allergic patients -uh- too.
00:12:00.000 --> 00:12:24.000 Leone N. Claman: And then, and I would not put this last because I think I would put it first, and that is what we are trying to do right now, which is to increase the public fund of knowledge on an accurate basis as far as allergic disease are concerned. To give the public's very definite and accurate information as to what allergic diseases is and what can be done about it.
00:12:24.000 --> 00:12:32.000 Watson Davis: Well that's what we're doing right now, Dr. Claman actually as a part of the program. You, the foundation, isn't allergic to financial contributions is it?
00:12:32.000 --> 00:12:35.000 Leone N. Claman: On the contrary. Both: Laugh
00:12:35.000 --> 00:12:45.218 Watson Davis: Well I think it is very interesting to have this look At allergy. Uh, let me ask you this Dr. Claman, you mentioned asthma and uh,
00:12:46.000 --> 00:12:49.000 Watson Davis: Um Excema(Exceema), Excema(Exuhma)!
00:12:49.000 --> 00:12:52.000 Leone N. Claman: Well we say Excema(Exuhma), most people say Excema(Exceema).
00:12:52.000 --> 00:13:02.000 Watson Davis: Well alright uh... Topical things that you put on or do for them to relieve symptoms are useful, but also there's this problem of the basic cost.
00:13:02.000 --> 00:13:17.000 Leone N. Claman: Yes, uh we can... we can relieve some of the symptoms with various medications or applications, but you don't really treat the individual correctly unless you try to immunize them against whatever is causing his illness.
00:13:17.000 --> 00:13:27.000 Watson Davis: And uh, that's, therefore it's important that a doctor who knows about allergy, really uh have a chance to see these patient's, isn't it?
00:13:27.000 --> 00:13:29.000 Leone N. Claman: Well we think so, yes.
00:13:29.000 --> 00:13:39.000 Watson Davis: And uh, well I hope you do go on and conquer more and more of these rather serious, but very prevalent conditions known as allergies.
00:13:39.000 --> 00:13:49.000 Leone N. Claman: Thank you- Watson Davis: Our- Our "Adventures in Science," guest today has been Dr. Leone N. Claman: Attending physician in charge of Allergy at New York Infirmary.