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Cedar pollen found in KVUE allergy count

An air sample taken at the KVUE's North Austin studio Friday morning captured the first cedar pollen of the season.
Cedar pollen under a microscope, circled in red.

AUSTIN -- An air sample taken at the KVUE studio Friday morning captured the first cedar pollen of the season.

Allergy sufferers say the small particle makes them miserable.

"I would sound like I just woke up when it would be in the afternoon. I would want to dig my eyes out, it just painfully just want to, felt like there was something in my eyes continually," said Brett Dew.

Microscopic cedar pollen particles are thrust into the air when winds whip mountain cedar trees, producing a green cloud of dust that gets into your system.

To prevent the dreaded cedar fever, Dew goes to the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin.

"I get shots every couple of weeks so when the season comes it's not as bad as it would be," he said.

The big question is, does the one particle found by a KVUE meteorologist mean the season is starting early?

"It's not unusual to see a few cedar pollens this time of the year," said Dr. Allen Lieberman of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin.

Lieberman admits cedar is showing up earlier than normal, but said it will be a few weeks before cedar season kicks into high gear.

"Typically it's really towards the end of the month, maybe around Christmas time is when people really start to notice and New Year's is absolutely the worst," he said.

Lieberman added that when it does get here, allergy sufferers will know.

"Cedar pollen is like nothing else where people can tell you to the exact minute that they feel it," he said. "I mean they're having a really, really nice evening, the weather was very nice, they were outside and then within five minutes it just hit them and you're miserable."

Lieberman said people shouldn't let the common name "Cedar Fever" fool them when it comes to symptoms.

"Itchy eyes, watery nose, congestion. It could bring on asthma, sinus infections. The real thing is that it's a real misnomer cause there's no fever," said Lieberman.

If you do have a fever, Lieberman said the problem is not allergies.

With cedar season weeks away, it is too late for shots or drops to work, so he said a person's best bet is to visit the drug store.

"Go ahead and get on your allergy medications, your antihistamines and nose sprays and start using on a consistent basis. Although I do think if people, you know, hold off for another few weeks they should be, actually, pretty good with that," he said.

Lieberman said neti pots and nasal rinses also help. There is some good news; Austin is expected to have a rainy winter, which will likely wash the pollen out of the air.

Go here for the latest allergy forecast.

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