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Cedar Fever: Why its Late and What to Do Now That its Here

The cedar fever season might have arrived a little late this year, but it is packing a punch now that it is here.

The Allergy and Asthma Center in Georgetown reported a pollen count of 6,646 grains per liter of air on Monday, a new high for the season. Caused by the pollen of mountain cedar (or ashe juniper) trees, cedar fever plagues Central Texas every winter, leaving its victims with a cough, sore throat, and a runny nose.

Dr. Robert Cook of Central Texas Allergy & Asthma said the season normally starts around Jan. 7, but has been known to start as early as Dec. 15.

“This is definitely cedar weather: it’s cool, there is a little bit of breeze,” Cook said. “The cedar season is a little late this year, but there is certainly enough in the air to cause symptoms.”

Cook said the late start can be partially blamed on the drought Texas is facing.

“When I looked at the cedar trees and their little pine cones or pollen buds, there were very few of them and the trees haven't turned as brown as they normally do,” Cook said. “Usually if you look at the cedar trees, the male trees are loaded with these cones and completely brown. Now, they are a little less mature and there are fewer of them.”

Despite this late start, Cook said the cedar fever season was likely to be no worse or better than the average season. About 30 percent of Austinites have allergies according to Cook. Of those who have pollen allergies, the majority of them are allergic to cedar pollen.

For anyone suffering from cedar fever, Cook recommends closing windows and showering before bed at night. He said medications, such as Zyrtec, Allegra and nasal sprays, can also help.

Cedar season usually peaks during late January or early February, and it normally ends around March 7.

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