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Mountain cedar, often referred to locally as cedar fever, is the cause of hay fever symptoms in Central Texas from December through February. In the winter months in Central Texas, large amounts of pollen are carried great distances by air currents and can easily come into contact with nasal passages causing hay fever symptoms in allergic individuals. Hay fever symptoms include runny nose, post-nasal drip, itching of the eyes, mouth, nose, sneezing, congestion, fatigue, and sore throat.
In most of the United States, the winter provides relief from pollinating plants as typically there are no trees, grasses, or weeds that pollinate in the cool winter months. In addition, many parts of the United States are covered in snow. When many people move to Central Texas, they experience hay fever symptoms in the winter for the first time. Symptoms may start immediately after moving to the area or a few years after living in Central Texas.
Mountain Cedar (Juniperus ashei) is a drought-tolerant evergreen shrub. It can reach 10-15 meters (33-49 feet tall) and grows from northeastern Mexico to southern Missouri. The largest population of mountain cedar is in Central Texas, where it can be abundant. These shrubs provide year-round protection for wildlife and also provide erosion control.
Although mountain cedar peaks December through February, it can pollinate from November to March. Mountain cedar pollen counts are often higher than any other pollinating plant in Central Texas. The counts during peaks season can range from 3,000-10,000 pollens per cubic meter of air. During peak pollinating days, mountain cedar pollen in the air can be so abundant that it can be confused for smoke to the visiting traveler.
Many people experience severe symptoms during the winter months. Left untreated, some patients may experience severe infections as well as significant asthma exacerbations. If people experience lower respiratory or allergy symptoms in the wintertime, it is important to seek appropriate diagnosis and treatment with an allergist. There is good treatment available for mountain cedar allergy. Thus, many people can start enjoying the mild winters of Central Texas and find relief in knowing they do not have to move away after all.
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