'Tis the season for Mountain Cedar

Dreaded pollen already making life miserable for some

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter, tgerber@ksat.com
Published On: Dec 03 2012 06:38:41 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 03 2012 06:45:02 PM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

It's back. For the first time this season, the dreaded Mountain Cedar pollen showed up in local pollen counts on Sunday.

The cedar season typically starts this time of year and goes all the way into February, causing big problems for anyone who suffers from it.

Wilbur Riley has a big problem with allergies. It is so bad he has to get shots twice a week to get relief. Like most people in this part of the country, Mountain Cedar pollen hits him hard.

"I get irritated eyes, watery eyes, running nose, the itch, you name it, it's there," Riley said as he waited to see his allergy specialist Monday afternoon.

His physician, Dr. Mirie Hosler, said she is already seeing plenty of patients complaining of similar symptoms and the cedar season is just getting started.

"The pollen season actually started a few weeks ago but not consistently," Hosler said. "We were just seeing a few grains of pollen in the air but that's enough for some people to start to have symptoms."

Hosler predicts it will be a bad year for cedar suffers. This year's weather conditions have set up the perfect storm for a nasty cedar season.

"We had a good amount of rain during the spring and intermittently during the summer and fall," Hosler said. "So the Mountain Cedar trees are pretty happy and healthy so we predict they're going to have a very good pollen season which isn't good for us."

Believe it or not, the cedar trees in the Texas Hill Country and South Texas produce the highest pollen counts in the world. While most people are affected to some degree, it can take a few years for newer residents to feel the impact.

"There is often a lag period of a couple years of exposure," Hosler said. "Allergies are a learned response so it takes a couple of years to become allergic to Mountain Cedar or any allergen and then it keeps getting worse after that."

Desperate for relief cedar suffers will try anything.

Some believe eating the berries from the trees will help build up an immunity but Hosler said that might not be a good idea.

"Some of the proteins in the berries unfortunately may be the same proteins that are in the pollen," Hosler said. "In that type of situation, a person could have a very serious allergic reaction."

Instead of trying home remedies, Hosler suggests sticking to over-the-counter medications. If that doesn't work it's probably time to see a professional.

"We see a lot of this and we can give prescription strength medication and even give people allergy shots to prevent problems in the future," Hosler said.

Wilbur Riley said he can't imagine what his life would be like if he didn't get his bi-weekly allergy shots.

"It helps a lot," Riley said. "The shots really pay off for me."