It is January, and cedar has officially exploded in Austin. If you haven’t noticed then you probably have nothing to worry about this year, but if it feels like you’ve been hit by a truck, then it could very well be cedar that is causing your symptoms.
The cedar pollen that we refer to in central Texas actually comes from the Ashe Juniper (or “Mountain Cedar”) releasing a ton of pollen this time of year, which in turn can cause your immune system to overreact and create some pretty gnarly symptoms – any combination of headache, body aches, fever, congestion, runny nose, cough, watering eyes and fatigue.
The good news is that there are several treatment options that effectively treat the SYMPTOMS related to cedar as well as get down to the ROOT CAUSE to prevent more cedar symptoms from occurring. Additionally, looking ahead to next year, there are steps you can take to modulate immune system function that work best PRIOR to the start of cedar season.
If you are dealing with cedar symptoms now, here are the most important things you can do to improve your symptoms.
- Limit or remove physical exposure to the allergen. This is an absolutely essential step, and there are several ways to go about it. If your body is having an allergic reaction to something, step 1 is to try to stop exposing yourself to the allergen. This can be hard when cedar is in full swing, but every little bit helps.
Options for limiting your exposure to cedar pollen:
- Wash your sheets often and change your pillow case every day
- Wash your hair every night or wipe it down with a wet washcloth to remove pollen after going outside
- Make sure the air filters in your house have been changed recently
- Invest in a HEPA air purifier for the bedroom (this is the one I use at home and in the clinic)
- Use a neti pot daily
- Limit time outside or with windows open, at least on days when cedar levels are exceptionally high (Check here)
- Use an anti-histamine. OTC antihistamines can be very effective. For severe symptoms, you may want to consider taking one in the morning (e.g. Claritin) and a different one in the evening (e.g. Zyrtec). D-Hist is also a good option, and one I have seen to be relatively effective for cedar symptoms.
- Chinese herbal therapy can be customized to your specific symptoms. A customized herbal formula can fit your specific needs and pattern. Chinese herbal formulas are designed to help the body rebalance the immune response which will help immensely with symptoms.
- Acupuncture can help the nervous system and immune system response. Acupuncture is also customized to your body’s needs. Depending on the symptoms you have, as well as your constitutional predispositions, an acupuncturist can help your body rebalance the immune response.
- Consider nutritional deficiencies. Deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals could make your immune system less effective (or overly aggressive). A review of your symptoms can give us insight into potential deficiencies that should be addressed.
If you are suffering, I encourage you to try some of these approaches or talk to an Austin acupuncturist or other integrative healthcare provider about the options that may work best for you.