Allergy sufferers beware! Cedar pollen is hitting Austin hard right now

Friday, the cedar pollen count skyrocketed to almost 10,000.

That’s double the number it was last Friday.

“What I like to tell my patients is, ‘As soon as we get the cold weather, cedar's going to start bothering you,’” said Dr. Dagoberto Balderas, a family practice physician in Southwest Austin.  

From December to March, cedar quickly becomes the enemy of allergy sufferers in Austin. “The cedar starts spiking, so we'll get a rash of patients coming in,” Balderas said.  

The amount of pollen produced really depends on the amount of rain we get in the fall. This year Austin had plenty of that, leaving our cedar trees packed with pollen come December.

Add a little wind into the mix and it quickly becomes a recipe for an allergy disaster. 

“Then if we don't have rain, once all the pollen is released, then we're all going to suffer,” said Balderas. That suffering looks a little different for everyone, but itchy, watery eyes, sinus pain and congestion, as well as headaches are common symptoms. However, there are ways to make impact less severe. 

“The common things that we think of is your antihistamines, your Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec. The nasal steroids are very effective as well,” Balderas said. 

Limiting outdoor activity and closing windows when pollen counts spike, is another way to help keep allergies in check.  “A lot of the times when we start having these allergy symptoms, what we want to do is get rid of the pollen around you. So it's important to wash your hair, get rid of all the pollen from being outdoors,” said Balderas. 

Something else to consider is that the flu starts showing up around December as well, especially as people travel for the holidays. If a fever or body aches and chills develop it may be best to call a doctor to get tested for the flu virus.