Pollen explodes from a male tree during “Cedar Fever” season. (Courtesy Texas A&M Forest Service)

Cedar fever- neither cedar or fever

Ah Choo! The hills and valleys at Possum Kingdom are alive with cedar pollen. The hazy air is full of concentrated pollen from Ashe Juniper trees. European settlers were accustomed to true cedars of their homelands and the trees here were similar in that they were evergreen except true cedars have needle-like leaves while the junipers have scale-like leaves when mature. Over the years the name Mountain Cedar became the misnomer for juniper. No matter what you call it, the pollen explosion in Texas is an annual event that folks would rather skip.

Cedar fever isn’t a cold, flu, covid, or other viruses, but an allergic reaction to the pollen that can cause similar symptoms of itchy watery eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sinus pressure. In some people the allergic reaction my raise body temperature. Those with extreme reactions to the pollen pack up and leave the lake during the peak season from late December to February. Over-the-counter medications such as nasal sprays and allergy relief drops may give some relief. If conditions persist, it may be a good idea to see a doctor or allergy specialist.

So, the allergic reaction comes from juniper trees called Mountain Cedar and the symptoms rarely cause a fever. What is important is how to avoid the pollen by staying indoors when possible and keeping windows and doors closed. Be sure to replace all HVAC filters. Keep your home clean by additional dusting and vacuuming. Frequent washing of clothing and bedding will help remove pollen contact. Speaking of washing, be sure to give your pets a thorough bath and try to keep them indoors if you can. Keep your vehicles in a garage if you have one. Remember that box of facemasks you had left over from the Covid outbreak? It might be a good idea to wear one when you have to go outside. If all fails, this might be the time to take that trip to Florida or the Caribbean. Good luck and pass the Kleenex.

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