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Cedar Allergy

Cedar fever, rather than the flu or common cold, is a seasonal allergy to pollen released from mountain cedar trees, the most allergenic tree in Central Texas. Cedar fever can affect Texans from November through early March with peak pollination from mid-December through February. The volume and density of Ashe Juniper, the predominant species of Mountain Cedar, in Central Texas produces high concentrations of pollen in the environment, which can easily overwhelm the immune system. Continue reading to learn more about allergy symptoms related to cedar season as well as symptom causes, treatment, and prevention tips. In addition, check out our ‘FAQ’ to find answers to frequently asked questions concerning the many aspects of cedar fever and of cedar allergies.

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Witten by: Dr. Neha Reshamwala
NPI number: 1780874578
Page last reviewed: 03/20/21

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Symptoms


The symptoms of cedar allergies mimic those of other pollen allergies. If you are allergic to cedar, you may experience any of the following symptoms:
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy throat
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Headaches/dizziness
  • Sinus pain, pressure, or congestion
  • Rashes on the skin

Causes


A cedar allergy occurs when your body’s immune system responds inappropriately to cedar pollen. Although the pollen itself is harmless, the body mistakes it for a dangerous invader and works to fight against it. This process is comparable to the process in which your immune system protects you from a virus or bacterium. When this process occurs in response to cedar pollen exposure, your body exhibits symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches, etc. Cedar pollen is most abundant during the winter months, particularly from December through February.

Diagnosis/Treatment


Your allergist will diagnose, evaluate, and help you treat your cedar allergy. After thoroughly discussing your medical history and your symptoms, including when they first started and how you have experienced them, your allergist will then perform a skin prick test to identify the specific allergens that are triggering your symptoms. This 20-minute procedure involves using a plastic applicator to apply diluted drops of the allergen to your back and waiting 15 minutes to observe for an allergic reaction through the formation of a small, raised, red bump at the prick site The most common treatments for cedar allergies include medications and allergy therapy. For short-term relief, the following medications are commonly used to control symptoms. It is important to discuss with your allergist first about which medication(s) are right for you:
  • H1 Antihistamines (common H1 antihistamines include Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin, or Xyzal)
  • H2 Antihistamines (common H2 antihistamines include Pepcid or Zantac)
  • Nasal sprays
  • Leukotriene inhibitors
For long-term protection against cedar allergies, many people choose to undergo allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps your body’s immune system develop long-term resistance to the allergen and exists in three forms.
  • Shots/Injections (subcutaneous allergy immunotherapy, or SCIT)
  • Under the tongue drops (a form of sublingual allergy immunotherapy, or SLIT)
  • Tablets that dissolve under the tongue (a form of SLIT)
Talk to your allergist about whether you may be a candidate for allergy immunotherapy and discuss which options are the best fit for you.

Prevention


To limit your exposure and minimize your allergic symptoms during cedar season, aim to do the following:
  • Keep doors and windows closed when pollen count is high
  • Change air conditioning filter often
  • Change your clothes and wash your hands after spending time outdoors
  • Vacuum once a week
  • Bathe pets regularly, regardless of if they live indoors
Additionally, you may experience symptoms after eating specific foods that contain similar proteins to those found in cedar pollen. This is known as oral allergy syndrome, which differs from a true food allergy. Below are the major foods to avoid during cedar season.
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Bell peppers
  • Kiwi
  • Tomato

FAQ

What are the symptoms of cedar allergy?

  • Symptoms will vary from person to person, but common symptoms of cedar fever include itchy eyes, sneezing, blocked nasal passages, runny nose, and headaches. However, cedar fever does not actually cause a fever, but the inflammation in the body triggered by the pollen may slightly increase your body temperature.

What regions are most affected by cedar fever?

  • Mountain cedar trees exist primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. However, Central Texas has the highest concentration of Ashe juniper, the predominant species of mountain cedar, in the country.

What are the treatments for cedar allergy?

  • If you are suffering from cedar allergy symptoms, talk to an allergist. Your allergist can skin test you to determine if you truly have a cedar allergy. Allergy medications such as antihistamines or nasal sprays can be used to control your symptoms during cedar season. It’s better to start using medication two weeks in advance before your cedar allergy symptoms are most intense but consult with your allergist first about which medications are right for you. Some immunotherapy options to consider if you have a severe case of cedar allergies and want to build long-term protection include allergy injections or drops under the tongue.

When is cedar allergy’s peak season?

  • Cedar pollen allergy usually peaks from December through February.

What are the best ways to prevent symptoms during cedar season?

  • Limit your exposure by staying indoors, if possible, when the cedar pollen count is at its highest. Cedar pollen can stick to clothes, hair and skin, so taking a shower and changing clothes after you’ve been outside may also help minimize your symptoms. Cleaning your home regularly can also limit dust and pollen exposure.
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Written by: Dr. Neha Reshamwala
NPI number: 1780874578
Page last reviewed: 03/20/21

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