Dallas Morning News - January 13, 2022
Cedar Trees and Cedar Fever
Texas cedars are actually junipers. But, whatever you call them, they can be friend or foe. They are beautiful trees and good for the environment in their own way, but they also cause allergy problems. "Cedar fever" season here and extra concerning lately. The main culprit is Mountain Cedar aka Ashe Juniper.
The pollen from trees in Texas is usually so heavy that even if you aren't generally susceptible to allergies, you can still be seriously affected.
Male flowers of the native cedar - the specific producers of the cedar fever allergies
The source isn't limited to Ashe Junipers. In eastern parts of the state and here in north Texas, eastern red cedars pollinate around the same time, between December and January. All the native cedars release pollen after a cold front when the wind picks up and air dries out. Every pollen cone can open simultaneously, looking like the trees are on fire and exploding with smoke.
The pollination period of cedar trees is in the middle of flu season and it's not uncommon for people experiencing cedar fever to mistake symptoms for colds or seasonal flu. Symptoms may include may include fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, partial loss of smell and – some people actually run a fever.
Eastern Red Cedar Berries
This year is particularly concerning, since many symptoms are similar to those of the COVID virus. Watch for these tell-tale signs however. Cedar pollen will rarely cause your body temperature to surpass 101.5. If your fever exceeds that, pollen likely isn't the cause.
There are also other symptoms of cedar fever like itchy, watery eyes, blocked nasal passages and sneezing. Experts say that there is one "dead giveaway." If your mucus is running clear, it's an allergy. If a darker color, it may be a cold, flu or other virus.
Removing cedar trees from your property won't help much. The pollen is airborne and blows in from miles away from the millions of male cedars in south central and east Texas.
Mountain cedar aka Ashe juniper - one the native "cedars" responsible for the allergy known as "cedar fever"
Eastern red cedar - a darker green and more upright growing native "cedar." It also produces problem causing pollen
Our native junipers also have some significant health and environmental benefits by being used to make medicines and oils as well as providing a sustainable food source for wildlife, especially when growing in terrain that isn't hospitable for other crops.
Cedar fever can be treated by taking allergy medications and antihistamines, but you should consult with your physician on that. Other remedies you might hear recommended include keeping doors and windows closed, air conditioners on, air filters changed often, dusting with a damp cloth, showering and changing your clothes after being outdoors and bathing pets often.
Some of natural alternatives you might hear suggested include massage, acupuncture, herbal supplements, allergy shots or drops, greens and fruit antioxidants, nasal irrigation devices, spicy food, probiotics and local honey. All those can help your health by improving your immune system but won't help directly with the cedar fever.
I like the taste of the blue fruit, but curing the "fever?" Sorry - wish I had better news.