Cedar fever season expected to be severe


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER and editor DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE


Posted on December 18, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 18 at 9:19 PM

AUSTIN -- The tell tale signs are already here for some: the sniffling and sneezing associated with cedar fever.

Cedar fever season is never easy for allergy sufferers in Central Texas, but this year it could be even worse. Allergists said all the rain Central Texas received in October rain helped reduce the drought, but it increased the chances for a more severe cedar fever season.

"The cedar caught up with me rather quickly," said Nancy Mallory, a cedar fever sufferer.

Mallory had never experienced cedar fever until she moved here over a decade ago.

"It's hard to function," she said. "It's hard to think. It's hard to do what you normally do when cedar hits."

Cedar is expected to hit hard this season. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, this season should be really high.

"We think it will be a 12," said Allen Lieberman, M.D., an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin.

When asked why this season is expected to be bad, Lieberman said allergy sufferers can blame it on the rain.

"Usually, when you've had significant rainfall before a season, it makes for a more hearty season," he said.

When will it hit? Lieberman said his patients notice it right in time for New Year's Eve parties.

"They could tell us almost to the minute when it started," said Lieberman.  "A lot of people were hanging out on their decks and celebrating the New Year. Around 12:05 they suddenly felt it, they felt fine, then within 30 seconds, it's here again."

Of the live trees that are purchased at Christmas tree farms and stores, a good many of those are cedar trees. Lieberman said in those cases, pollen is usually not the problem.

"The more the problem with the live trees are the molds," said Lieberman.

Mallory said she's not going to let cedar fever ruin her holidays, but she wouldn't mind if Santa crossed it off her list for good.

"Actually, yes," said Mallory. "It's not a Christmas gift I want."

Lieberman said the key for cedar sufferers is to start taking their preventive medicines and nasal sprays now, before the cedar is in full bloom.

KVUE's meterologists did some research in 2009, testing air samples from 10 locations in the Austin area. The "Y" in Oak Hill had the third highest pollen count, with North Austin along Loop 360 coming in second and Cedar Park had the most cedar pollen, twice the amount found in any of the other locations.

Go here for more information on the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin.

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