How to snuff out cedar fever without a trip to the doctor

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- "Cedar fever" is expected to hit Austin worse than usual this year. Allergists say a wetter-than-usual winter made for a late start to the season.

Cedar pollen counts didn't climb as high as they usually do in December, due to the precipitation, but now, doctors say Austinites will pay for that.

"That will likely prolong the season into late February, maybe early March," said Dr. Thomas Leath of Allergy Free Austin. "And if we keep having the dampness, the count should be higher."

Dr. Leath says the pollen count is going up now, and he expects the season's peak to last longer this year, affecting more people than usual. Luckily, for most, he says a couple of drugstore remedies will work.

He recommends using a sinus flush, along with a nasal spray.

"Since the nasal corticosteroids have gone over the counter, those are really the treatments that work best in research studies," Leath said. "A lot of patients can get adequate control with that."

The allergist says he recommends pairing Flonase with an over-the-counter antihistamine, like Zyrtec. While all drugs affect different patients in different ways, he says those two brands work the best for most patients.

Leath says changing your air filters more frequently over the next couple of months can help reduce the pollen count inside your home.

Cedar sufferers can also be proactive after spending time outdoors.

"Change clothes and take a shower to get the pollen out of your hair," Dr. Leath recommends, immediately following time outside, "so that you're not rubbing it on your pillow and then breathing that in through your nose and mouth all night."

Dr. Leath also says any pets that go outdoors should be washed more frequently over the next several weeks.

"If your pets spend time outside, they're going to bring the cedar pollen in with them," he said.

Dr. Leath says while most people can get by using over-the-counter treatments for the duration of the season, there are a couple of red flags severe allergy sufferers should pay attention to. Allergy drops or shots could be needed if over-the-counter treatments don't help at all, or if other complications develop from the allergies, such as sinus infections or asthma attacks.

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