New year brings allergic assault from the south, UNTHSC expert warns

Just when you thought it was safe to breathe again, the new year brings a new allergy. 

December’s sub-freezing temperatures quelled ragweed and many other allergens. But mountain cedar (actually ashe juniper, a small tree native to Central Texas) has been pumping out pollen that is blown into North Texas by prevailing south winds, said John Fling, MD, an allergist and Professor of Pediatrics at UNT Health Science Center.

This year is predicted to be worse than last, because autumn rainfall in the Central Texas Hill Country put a big bloom on mountain cedar. 

"The amount of pollen that hits the Hill Country is phenomenal, and the locals call it the ‘cedar fever,’" said Dr. Fling, because symptoms are severe: itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion.

Here are Dr. Fling’s tips for those who are allergic:

  • Avoid the Hill Country, if possible.
  • Use a topical nasal steroid spray beginning several weeks prior to exposure, and continue through February.
  • Use antihistamines as needed.
  • Use allergy eye drops as needed.

To see a UNT Health provider, call 817-735-DOCS (3627).

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