Keep tissues handy: Cedar season peaks



Posted on January 20, 2010 at 6:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 20 at 7:20 PM

Cedar season typically runs from Christmas through mid-February.  Right now, Central Texas is in the peak of the season.

Cedar trees, Mountain Junipers -- whatever you call them -- allergy sufferers don't like them.


Robert Langford has lived in Central Texas for 12 years.  He is allergic to cedar pollen.

"It's headaches, it's congestion, some sneezing. On bad days it's a feeling of of just being tired," he said.

It's virtually impossible to get away from the pollen if you're outdoors.  Trees sometimes look like they're on fire, but it's pollen being released.  Winds can blow it as much as 50 miles away.

"Normally I just wake up with it, and go through the whole day with it - suffering. By the end of the night, you're glad it's over with it. But the next morning it just starts up all over again," said Kennie Mingo.

Traditionally, cedar season is at its worst during the first three weeks of January.  This week is expected to be the worst of the season because of the windy weather in the forecast.

"If you think about the problem, you have lots of irritation in your eyes and nose, that's where you want to have medication. So sprays and drops tend to be more effective than the pills," said Bill Howland, M.D., Allergy & Asthma Center of Austin.

Dr. Howland recommends prescription cortisone nasal sprays, but he adds there are plenty of over the counter medications that work well, too.

"There are a couple new antihistamine eye drops; one's called Zyrtec, one called Claritin and one called Zaditor. Those are great if you have itchy eyes. You can use those up to twice a day and get great relief," said Howland.

Before some of his patients come for allergy tests, they have to stop taking over the counter medication for a couple of days before the appointment.

"It's been a tough couple of days waiting for this point. I can't wait to go home and get some meds!" laughed Langford.

Hopefully there will relief for what could be a rough cedar season, which could last through mid-February.