Do I Really Have Allergies?
With its humid, subtropical climate, hot summers and mild winters, Austin is home to a diverse range of trees, plants and flowers which, although beautiful, cause thousands of people to suffer severely from allergies throughout the year.
In spring we’re plagued with pollen from oak, ash, elm, pecan and cottonwood trees, whilst summer brings irritation from grass pollen kicked up into the air when we mow our lawns. As the weather cools a little in fall, ragwood pollen becomes a problem, and winter is even worse when ‘cedar fever’ takes its hold. It’s not surprising that so many Austin residents suffer from allergies all year round, but have you ever considered that what appears to be allergy related symptoms are actually symptoms of cold and flu?
Cedar Fever Or The Common Cold?
Mountain cedar trees (also known as Ashe juniper) tend to spread their pollen throughout winter. January and February are known to be the worst months for cedar allergies, but sometimes symptoms can go on into early March, too. Cool, sunny and windy days tend to cause the worst symptoms as trees appear to explode with pollen; sometimes the pollen clouds look like plumes of smoke and it seems like trees are on fire.
Each Ashe juniper pollen grain is shaped like a spiked mace, which means that as well as causing allergic inflammation of the mucus membranes, it can also cause contact irritation. This means that even people who are not usually allergic to pollen can find themselves with itchy noses and eyes, too. For those who are already sensitive to pollen, mountain cedar pollen season can make their symptoms worse than ever and become truly debilitating.
Many ‘cedar fever’ symptoms are flu-like. It’s not uncommon to be fatigued, have a stuffy head and itchy eyes, and be plagued with headaches as a result of mountain cedar pollen. However, it’s important to be able to recognize real flu symptoms separately to allergy symptoms. The flu tends to cause a fever, and often makes muscles feel achy and weak. Allergies do not cause these symptoms, and even the feeling of being fatigued is usually a result of poor sleep caused by the irritating pollens.
If you’re suffering from a fever and sore, aching muscles during ‘cedar fever’ season, it’s likely that you’re actually suffering from a cold or flu instead and you should seek appropriate treatment.
Although there is no definitive cure for allergies, there are many ways in which you can manage your symptoms. Over-the-counter treatments such as tablets or nasal sprays can be incredibly helpful, but some – particularly the most powerful ones – can cause side effects such as drowsiness. You should therefore consult a doctor to be advised on an allergy treatment that will suit your current health status and lifestyle.
The best way to manage pollen allergies is to keep your body and environment as free from pollen as possible. Keep doors and windows closed to prevent pollen from gathering in your home, and wipe surfaces regularly to get rid of any pollen which may have gathered. Bed sheets and pillowcases can easily become coated in pollen from hair and clothes, so launder them more regularly to avoid being irritated at night.
During the day, allergy sufferers should wash their hands and faces regularly to keep pollen at bay, and may find it helpful to wash their hair more regularly than usual. It can also be beneficial to change into fresh, clean clothes when you arrive home at the end of each day to avoid transferring pollen throughout your house.
Consult Your Doctor For More Allergy Advice
If you’re being severely plagued by allergies, book an appointment with your family doctor to discuss medications and other treatment options to manage your symptoms.