3 months 2 weeks ago
Cedar season is here and Central Texans are suffering. In the last seven days we’ve seen multiple record-setting cedar pollen counts.
Allergists say the important thing to know about Cedar Fever is you don’t actually get a fever. Cedar Fever and COVID-19 do have some similar symptoms including congestion, runny nose, headache, fatigue and change in smell or taste. However, there are key differences between the two.
Tuesday the weather was beautiful but going outside wasn’t particularly pleasant if you suffer from cedar allergies like Austin native Samuel Samuelson.
“I have red, watery eyes ... this year’s actually really bad,” he says.
Without fail cedar pollen starts flying in Central Texas December through February—with the peak often hitting right after the new year.
“I always forget about it until it comes back and hits me in the face, literally,” says Samuelson.
“We’ve had some pretty record-breaking days here,” says Stacy Silvers, allergist at Aspire Allergy and Sinus.
He says the record cedar levels are all thanks to a perfect storm of cold weather, clear skies and wind adding up to a tough time for allergy sufferers and possible confusion between Cedar Fever and COVID-19.
“It can certainly be difficult for anyone to distinguish the difference. Some of the big things I look for is number one—fever,” says Silvers.
Despite its name, Cedar Fever does not cause a fever. People with cedar allergies typically experience itchy, watery eyes and sneezing along with congestion and a runny nose. COVID-19 infections often do include a fever as well as a cough and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
While allergy sufferers hoped face coverings would soften the blow, they’re not bringing much relief to some.
“I feel like I should have less allergies because of the mask but I still have plenty of allergies,” says Samuelson.
When Cedar season winds down in February, unfortunately, other pollen will be waiting.
“Not only do we have this cedar pollen in the winter, but typical tree pollen allergy season is quickly approaching in February and March,” explains Silvers.
Allergists say nasal sprays can be more effective than over-the-counter antihistamine tablets, but for best results you should start using the sprays before you start suffering. Other tips to survive cedar season include:
- Keep windows and doors closed
- Wash bedding in hot water weekly
- Shower at night to rinse off allergens
- Use zipped pillow and mattress covers
- Wipe pets down when coming in from outside
- Reduce clutter that may be collecting dust
- Get an air purifier for your home
- Visit an allergist to explore immunotherapy options