Many people groan just hearing the term “cedar fever.” Even if you aren’t allergic to cedar or juniper, you know what cedar fever is, and you know that cedar is in the air when a smog-like pollen hangs in the air.
What is Cedar Fever?
Cedar fever is a reaction to pollen from the juniper tree that causes an allergic reaction. The spikey pollen of this tree is known for its aggressive seasonal bloom. Pollen looks like tiny grass burrs under a microscope, and they stick to hair, brows, eyelashes, nose hairs, clothing, and pets. Cedar fever is most common in December and January, when pollen counts are at their highest, but it can start earlier and last until March.
A high concentration of cedar pollen in the air is one of the main causes of cedar fever. The same pollen in a small amount would not have the same effect on the body. Even if you don’t normally get allergies, a lot of cedar pollen can cause symptoms.
The symptoms of cedar allergy include the following:
- Nose Symptoms Cedar allergy causes inflammation of the mucus membranes in the nose and sinuses, resulting in nasal blockages and increased mucus production. The high pollen counts cause sneezing, nasal itching, and runny nose. Significant coughing can develop as the drainage tickles down the throat. Sinus headaches and congestion are common as a result of significant sinus blockage. Many patients develop sinus infections if their cedar allergy is not treated.
- Eye symptoms: When the mucus membrane of the eyes is exposed to cedar pollen, it causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, which causes symptoms like itchy, red, and watery eyes. Swelling of one or both eyes occurs if the reaction is severe. This can lead to infection in the eyes if left untreated.
- Asthma Symptoms: Cedar allergy can cause asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, or cough in patients with allergy-induced asthma during the winter months when cedar counts are high.
- Skin symptoms: For a small percentage of patients, an eczema flare-up (dry, inflamed patches of skin) can occur during allergy season.
The severity of the allergy determines the treatment options. The following are some examples of treatments for cedar allergies:
- Nose washes: Nasal washes can be used for patients with milder symptoms. They can be used in conjunction with other medications for patients with more severe symptoms. If nasal washes are difficult to perform, nasal saline spray can be used.
- Nasal steroids: These are nasal anti-inflammatory medications. They are very effective in controlling symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Nasal cromolyn sodium is a milder anti-inflammatory that can help some patients and is available over-the-counter.
- Oral steroids: Oral steroids are only given to people who have severe allergic rhinitis symptoms. Because of the potential for side effects, they are only used for a short time.
- Oral antihistamines: Histamines cause a variety of symptoms. Antihistamines are medications that block the effects of histamine.
- Antihistamine nasal sprays: These have the advantage of being topically applied and can help with a variety of allergic rhinitis symptoms.
- Oral decongestants: Oral decongestants, either short-acting or long-acting, can be used to treat nasal blockage. They can be taken on their own or with antihistamines.
- Nasal anti-cholinergic sprays: These are used to relieve symptoms and help reduce nasal drainage.
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots or allergy injections): Immunotherapy gradually desensitizes patients to the allergens they are allergic to, improving symptoms. During the build-up phase, small and incremental doses of allergens are injected subcutaneously. Injections are continued for 3-5 years after the maintenance dose is reached. Allergy-induced asthma can also benefit from immunotherapy.
What Can You do to Avoid Getting Cedar Fever?
Between November and March, the majority of people report having cedar fever. However, the months of December to February are when cedar trees produce the most pollen.
Here are some things you can do at home to avoid getting cedar fever:
- Close doors and windows as much as possible to keep pollen out.
- Replace your air conditioning filters every three months. Because it filters smaller particles, choosing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is especially beneficial.
- Before going outside, check the pollen count. Mowing the lawn or doing yard work should be done when pollen levels are low.
- Keep your home clean on a regular basis to reduce dust and pollen exposure.
- After going outside, take a shower and change your clothes. Pollen can be removed from your hair and clothing using this method.
Allergies Treatment Near Austin, Texas
It helps to be prepared if you have allergies, which includes knowing when the peak allergy seasons are in your area. Call (512) 869-0604 or request an appointment online with Georgetown ENT in Georgetown, Texas, to get tested and treated for allergies.
We are a highly experienced and compassionate team of medical professionals who dedicate our time to helping people manage their allergies. We’d love to serve you, too!