For parents, every season brings its parenting challenges. In winter, colder weather, flu season, snow, winter break, and other topics are on parent’s minds. But as you settle down for winter’s worst, don’t forget an oft-overlooked winter ailment: cedar fever. “Cedar fever” is the colloquial term for a seasonal allergy brought on by pollen from mountain cedar (also known as Ashe Juniper) trees. Cedar fever affects many people each year, but it is particular bad for Texas residents, especially in major cities such as Austin. Cedar fever season, which lasts from November through March, is nasty at worst and unpleasant at best, and it affects both adults and children. Don’t let your child suffer this cedar fever season. Learn about cedar fever and its common symptoms so that you can seek out treatment.
Cold or Allergies? Cedar Fever Symptoms
Many parents have a difficult time distinguishing between a cold and allergies. This is understandable, as allergies are often mild enough to go unnoticed or to be excused as something else. The biggest distinguishing factor between a cold and allergies is the time it lasts. A cold lasts anywhere between 3 and 14 days, whereas allergies can last days to months. Cold symptoms begin a few days after infection with the virus, whereas allergy symptoms appear immediately on contact with the allergen or allergens. Cold symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, cough, fatigue, and general aches and pains. Allergy symptoms include itchy, red or watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and occasionally, fatigue.
Cedar Fever Prevention
Residents of Texas have seen the vast clouds of dust that float around major urban areas this time of year—that’s cedar pollen, and unfortunately, it’s not totally avoidable. That said, the best way to prevent cedar fever symptoms is avoiding coming into contact with cedar pollen as much as possible. Here are some quick prevention tips:
-Keep doors and windows closed. Both at home and in your car. Otherwise, pollen will get in and your little one will be sneezing for the rest of the afternoon. Run the air conditioner instead.
-Dust often. Use a damp cloth to wipe down all surfaces in your home regularly. You’d be surprised at how much pollen and dirt manages to build up!
-Change your air conditioning filter. If your child’s allergies are severe, you’ll want to use a HEPA (high efficiency particular air) filter, which is much more efficient at filtering out pollen than regular filters.
-Have your children change clothes when coming in from outside. Don’t let your kids drag in pollen from outside. Have them take off their shoes and change their clothes when coming back inside. Another good idea is to have them shower briefly or rinse out their hair (a favorite home of pollen).
-Get rid of cedar trees in your yard. Do you have cedar trees anywhere on your property? You can forget about allergy relief with a cedar tree so close by. Hire a professional replace your cedar trees with a hardwood such as elm or oak that won’t cause an allergic reaction.
-Bathe pets often. If you have pets who go outside, make sure that you bathe them often, as pollen can be dragged inside on their coats. If you can’t rinse off their fur, at least take a brush to them before you allow them to come back inside.
Treatment Options - When to See Your Pediatrician
While cedar fever is an unpleasant to deal with, don’t get discouraged. With the proper treatment and management plan, your child can live a happy and fulfilling live even with allergies. There are many treatment options for cedar fever. Over the counter remedies, appropriate for those with mild allergy symptoms, include antihistamines or decongestants in pill, spray, and drop form. Prescription medication, for those with more persistent symptoms, include stronger formulas of OTC medication, oral or nasal corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. Another, more permanent treatment option is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Allergy shots, which are administered over the course of several months, can significantly reduce allergy symptoms and improve quality of life.