ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – In West Texas, winds are picking up and the air is getting colder. Some people are really suffering. After all, it is peak allergy season.

This time of year can be crucial for people to get their allergies under control, before their symptoms spiral out of control. Sneezing, watery eyes, and nasal blockages are most common when dealing with allergies.

Mountain Cedar, also called Ashe Juniper, is commonly found in central Texas, where the name “Cedar Fever” is terribly true.

Cedar is a potent allergen triggered by cold weather. It’s something that can cause Texans to dread the onset of winter. When there are heavy winds, released pollen can travel a significant distance, and reach areas like the basin.

“In most of Texas, the wintertime is notorious for when we get these spikes of Mountain Cedar,” said Dr. Kirk Waibel, a board-certified allergist/immunologist in San Antonio. “The forecast for Texas at the moment is not great.”

Dr. Waibel said Cedar pollen can be seen in the Midland-Odessa area.

Courtesy: Daniel Katz

“There are some pollen counts that are showing that. Kind of the majority of Mountain Cedar is seen up and down the I-35 corridor,” Dr. Waibel said.

Courtesy: Pollen.com
Courtesy: Pollen.com

The Mountain Cedar tree is drought-tolerant. It’s a popular tree among critters and animals for shelter. So, the tree is going to be sticking around for a while.

An important question to ask is: when there is so much concern around COVID-19 and the flu, how can someone tell if they have allergies – and not something viral?

“Allergies don’t cause fever. Allergies don’t cause muscle aches and pain,” Dr. Waibel said. “They don’t cause yellow or green snot. That’s a cold or a sinus infection.”

Sometimes, allergies can affect the lower airways. Someone with asthma may have some coughing and wheezing.

Dr. Waibel said exposure to allergens early on in life could help reduce the negative impact of those allergens later on in life.

But for most people, they are far past that stage in childhood where their immune systems can benefit from that exposure.

So, for allergy sufferers, there are some ways to protect yourself from pollen.

You can keep windows closed and limit time outdoors to mitigate typical allergy symptoms. Masks are also suggested.

Dr. Waibel says an allergy sufferer should visit with their local health care provider as a first step. It could lead to a proper diagnosis, and perhaps, the right over-the-counter medicine. There are also “objective” tests.

“To me, a blood test or an allergy skin test is going to give that parent an objective answer to their concerns,” Waibel said.

There is also something else to consider: allergy immunotherapy. Dr. Waibel says allergy immunotherapy can retrain a person’s immune system so that it no longer reacts adversely to allergens. Of course, a medical professional would determine whether that action is appropriate.