MedSpring Viewpoints

Hay Fever or Cedar Fever ?

People refer to them by different names: Hay Fever, Spring Fever, Cedar Fever or Seasonal Allergies.

Regardless of what you call them they all explain the same medical condition causing those itchy, watery or burning eyes, the stuffed up nose and constant sneezing or coughing. It is all due to your body’s reaction to an inflammation of the nasal airways and/or the lungs reacting to exposure to allergens (like pollen or grass in the case of hay fever and cedar fever) that your body goes into overdrive to get rid of.

Cedar Fever
Cedar Fever is a seasonal allergy commonly found in Central Texas

 

These symptoms are medically categorized as allergic rhinitis. For some people allergic rhinitis can lead to sinusitis (an infection), asthma (or worsening asthma), chest congestion or ear infections, if left untreated.

There are a number of ways to manage, reduce or even prevent those seasonal allergens from ruining your day.

Causes

Hay Fever

Despite it’s name hay is just one potential trigger for seasonal allergies. Hay fever allergens can be occur perennially – once or twice annually, or they could affect you off and on year-round.  Seasonal triggers of hay fever include:

  • Tree pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Ragweed pollen
  • Mold and fungi spores
  • Other environmental irritants (e.g. smoke)

Year-round hay fever triggers can include:

  • Cockroaches and dust mites
  • Dried skin or flakes from pets
  • Mold and fungi spores

Cedar Fever

Cedar Fever is simply a form of hay fever caused by the Mountain Cedar, a form of juniper. Mountain Cedars are larger evergreen trees, native to northeast Mexico and, south-central United States making this seasonal allergen particularly regional.

When Seasonal Allergies Strike

Hay fever is most commonly associated with spring when tree and flower pollen is in full bloom. However, you may find that allergies strike at different times of the year depending on what your body is specifically reacting to. Classic Spring Fever usually peaks in April or May. While more specific types of Hay Fever, like cedar fever, can spike in December or January, but known to have a season that can stretch from October through March.

Other factors such as where you live, the type of allergens and time-of-year can dictate when you experience your seasonal allergies most acutely:

  • Hay fever season generally starts earlier in the south and then progresses northward
  • Tree-related hay fever occurs normally in the spring
  • Grass-related hay fever in the summer
  • Weed-related hay fever in the fall
  • Mold can exist year-round, so hay fever because of an allergy to mold can haunt you year round

Symptoms

Symptoms of hay fever can mimic those of a cold or the flu:

  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Headache
  • Sinus congestion or pressure

Treating Seasonal Allergies

Generally, the best course of action is to avoid the irritating allergens when they are most prevalent.  This may include keep doors and windows closed, using recirculated air conditioning and showering after being outdoors to remove residing pollen.

Medical treatment for hay fever may include simple over-the-counter medicines like anti-histamines or saline washes. A healthcare provider may also prescribe certain nasal sprays, decongestants, or even steroids for those exhibiting severe symptoms.

And there more permanent options include taking a series allergy injections that help your body slowly grow accustomed to the allergen that your immune system tends to attack.

Check in with your primary care provider for long-term treatment opportunities for your allergies if they are chronic.

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