SAN ANTONIO, TX – An unwelcome annual post-holiday guest is making many San Antonians feel miserable.
“Cedar fever” has returned, causing people to reach for the tissues, and some even heading to their allergists for treatment.
“The typical runny nose, sneezing, congested, along with irritated, itchy eyes,” said Dr. Ted Freeman, describing the symptoms he has been seeing lately at his San Antonio Asthma and Allergy Clinic.
Unlike the flu, cedar fever actually does not produce fever in its sufferers.
The nasal symptoms that do accompany it are a reaction to high levels of pollen in the air from the Ashe Juniper tree, also known as mountain cedar.
As of Monday morning, the level measured in the “very high” category, at 28,160 pollen grains per cubic feet of air.
In other words, there was more than enough pollen to make those who are allergic feel awful.
“Unless you want to leave the San Antonio area from January through February or March, it's really going to be hard to avoid mountain cedar,” Freeman said.
Cool, clear days like we have been having lately, he said, help to stir up the pollen. Winds then spread it far and wide. With only a minimal chance for rain during the next few days, Freeman said we can expect more of the same misery.
He said over-the-counter antihistamines can ease some of the symptoms.
“Those will help with sneezing, itching and running, but they usually won’t help very much with congestion,” he said. “Then there are nasal steroids. Those can work on all the symptoms, but it takes probably about a week to start working.”
Chronic sufferers also can turn to their doctors for a regiment of allergy shots, although that would need to be started in advance of the cedar season, Freeman said.
Those who didn’t plan ahead, meanwhile, may have to stock up on tissues until nature runs its course.