Cedar allergy causes inflammation in nose and sinus mucus membrane resulting in nasal blockage and increased mucus. Because the pollen counts are heavy, it causes severe sneezing, nasal itching, runny nose, nasal blockage. As the drainage tickles down the throat, significant cough can develop. Significant sinus blockage result in sinus headaches. If cedar allergy is untreated, many patients develop sinus infections.
Inflammation in eustachian tube causes ear itching and/or blockage, and a tendency to develop ear infections.
When exposed mucus membrane of the eyes reacts to cedar pollen, inflammation of the conjunctiva occurs. This results in symptoms such as itchy, red and watery eyes. If the reaction is severe, it causes swelling of one or both eyes. If untreated, this can lead up to infection in the eyes.
For patients who have allergy induced asthma, cedar allergy can cause asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, or cough in winter months with high cedar counts
A flare up of eczema (dry, inflamed patches of skin) can occur during the allergy season for a small percentage of patients.
Inflammation of the mucus membrane of the nose and adjoining sinuses caused by the immunologic reaction to Mountain Cedar (Juniper Ashii) pollen is called Cedar Fever.
Despite the name, fever typically does not accompany the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis induced by Mountain Cedar.
Junipers have male and female plants. Male plants turn reddish brown during pollination season and their pollen can be seen as a cloud or smoke around the tree.
Diagnosis of Cedar Fever is initiated by taking a thorough history. A detailed physical examination is performed. This followed by allergy testing concludes the diagnosis.
Most allergists perform skin tests to diagnose allergies. Skin tests are usually performed on the back in adults and on the arms in young children. The appointments usually take 1.5 to 2 hours and results are known at the end of the visit.
Blood tests can also be performed to diagnose allergies in special circumstances.
Treatments vary depending upon the severity of the disorder. Such treatments can broadly be classified as follows:
Non Medicinal: Nose washes: For patients with milder symptoms nasal washes can be used alone. For patients with more severe symptoms, they can be used in conjunction with other medications. Nasal saline spray can be used if nasal washes are hard to perform.
Medicinal: Nasal steroids: These are nasal anti-inflammatory medications. They are very effective in controlling symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Nasal cromolyn sodium is a milder anti-inflammatory that is available over the counter and can help some patients.
Leukotriene antagonists: These are Oral anti-inflammatory medications. They are milder and can be used in selected patients.
Oral steroids: Oral steroids are reserved for patients with severe symptoms of allergic rhinitis. They are used for a short duration due to possible side effects.
Oral antihistamines: Histamines cause a number of symptoms in allergic rhinitis. Oral antihistamines block the effect of histamine. These antihistamines may be sedating and short acting or they may be non-sedating and long acting.
Antihistamine nasal sprays: These have the advantage of working topically and help with a number of symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Oral decongestants: Nasal blockage can be treated with oral decongestants, which can be short acting or long acting. They can be used alone or in combination with antihistamines. Oral decongestants can raise heart rate and blood pressure and should therefore be used with caution.
Decongestant nasal sprays: These are topical decongestants and are not recommended for long term use because of rebound effects.
Nasal anti-cholinergic sprays: These help reduce nasal drainage and are used for symptomatic relief for nasal drainage.
Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots Or Allergy Injections): Immunotherapy slowly desensitizes patients to what they are allergic to and improves symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Small and incremental doses of allergens are injected subcutaneously during the build-up phase. Once the maintenance dose is reached, injections are continued for 3-5 years. Immunotherapy also helps allergy-induced asthma.
Q: When does Cedar Fever occur?
Mountain Cedar pollinates from November to March, but the highest pollen counts are seen throughout December, January and February. Thus, during the winter months when most of the country is free of pollen, Central Texas experiences the highest counts of Mountain Cedar pollen. The pollen counts of Mountain Cedar can reach tens of thousands of grains per cubic meter of air.
Q: Where are Cedar trees found? Mountain Cedar trees grow naturally and are the most allergenic tree in Central Texas. They are also found in New Mexico, northern Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.