Fort Worth

Allergy alert: If you’re sneezing and have itchy eyes, you may have cedar fever

It feels like springtime outside so why are some people trying to stay indoors? Blame mountain cedar.

The so-called Christmas allergy hits allergy sufferers right after the holiday season, making them feel miserable.

“We have a tree that actually pollinates during the winter and right now is typically the peak,” said allergist John Fling, who works at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth. “If it’s really windy, ‘stay inside’ would be the best advice. Take a topical nasal spray and an antihistamine. When you come in from outside, take a shower.”

University of Tulsa biology professor Estelle Levetin has studied the transport of mountain cedar pollen, including one time tracking it all the way from Texas to Canada.

She previously told the Star-Telegram that it needs to be 50 degrees or higher for the mountain cedar pollen, which comes from Ashe juniper trees to start pollinating, Other issues, such as humidity and sunlight, can also play a role in whether a tree pollinates.

Monday’s forecast is ideal for the transport of the pollen from the Hill Country into North Texas with highs in the 70’s and win gusts as 20 mph.

It will be cooler on Tuesday with highs in the 60s and winds shifting to a northerly direction. There’s still juniper trees in Oklahoma that could blow some pollen into the area — but far less than in the Hill Country. The biggest help will come when rain returns Thursday and Friday to wash the pollen out of the air.

For those with severe mountain cedar allergies, these steps have been recommended by some allergists:

Keep windows closed at home during the pollen season, especially on windy days.

Keep the home dusted — but the person who is allergic should not do the dusting.

Always shower immediately after working outside or spending time outside. This will help get the pollen off your skin and out of your hair.

Wear close-fitting or “wraparound” sunglasses to reduce pollen in the eyes. Use artificial-tears eye drops to wash away the pollen.

If you have allergies, take prescribed antihistamines and nasal sprays daily during the allergy season. They work much better to prevent allergy symptoms before they start than after.

This article includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

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Bill Hanna is an award-winning reporter who has covered just about every beat at the Star-Telegram. He currently covers Arlington but also writes about a variety of subjects including weather, wildlife, traffic and health.
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