FROM STAFF REPORTS
HIGHLAND LAKES — What’s in the air might be causing allergy sufferers more misery a bit earlier than typical this winter.
Recent conditions have ushered in the cedar fever season, marked by the release of pollen from the invasive shrub ashe juniper or mountain cedar prevalent in the Highland Lakes.
Allergists say the typical time of year for cedar allergies is mid-December through February.
However, a cold snap in late November appeared to launch the 2014 cedar fever season earlier than normal, said Dr. Gary Albertson of Victory Medical Clinic, 503 RR 1431 in Marble Falls.
“What set it off is a freeze we’ve had. Cedars respond to a freeze. The freeze busts the pods, and then it dries and the wind carries it a couple of weeks later,” he said. “The eyes are usually the first thing on most people. A lot of itching, watery eyes, nasal irritation, irritation at the back of the throat.”
As more trees release pollen, sufferers might notice symptoms becoming progressively worse.
“If the symptoms get bad enough, you almost feel like you’ve got the flu,” Albertson said. “You’ve have muscle aching. You can even run a low-grade fever.”
Eye drops, antihistamines and other remedies might provide relief for some, but others still require more serious treatment such as allergy testing, oral drops, shots or other injections.
“The desensitization takes a while. (Allergy shots) will help some at the later stage in two weeks, but it doesn’t help right off the bat,” Albertson said. “If you can not control your symptoms on your own, it’s good to see someone, an allergist or family practice, to get something that helps like a steroid injection.”
Should warmer winter weather persist along with moist conditions, a higher mold count could exacerbate cedar allergies.
“The increased drainage leads to sinus infections, bronchitis, and it can aggravate conditions such as asthmas or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” he said.
For more information on the clinic, go to www.victorymed.com and click on “Allergy Center” under the services tab.