Austin, Texas – a paradise in itself. It's awesome.
A place of amazing geographical diversity and beauty; from the beautiful live oaks to a variety of plant life. But with great beauty, comes a great price; and in Austin you pay with year-round seasonal allergies.
Due to how Austin is geographically situated, the area has a very temperate climate. Lot’s of hot sunny days and short winters. This incredible weather is very conducive to a wide variety of grasses, trees, weeds, and other plants – an allergy hotbed. Here is a look at some of Austin’s year-round allergies.
Although the winter months in Austin are usually considered to be quite short and mild, they also bring about the dreaded cedar fever and mold allergies.
Cedar fever is a seasonal allergy caused by the pollen of mountain cedar trees, which just so happen to be some of the most allergic trees in Texas. The symptoms of cedar fever include irritated eyes that itch and water; headaches; nasal blockage; sore throat; a dulled sense of smell; discomfort in the facial region; and the feeling of ears being plugged.
Like all allergies the immune system is sensitive to a foreign body (in this case, the pollen) which isn’t otherwise considered dangerous. The immune system then goes on the defense by releasing histamines which causes the allergy symptoms. In most cases, cedar fever is caused by a sensitivity to the pollen of Ashe juniper; which although isn’t technically considered a cedar tree, is still referred to as mountain cedar.
A strange but common occurrence is that newcomers to Austin will usually have around two years grace period after arriving – being happily allergy free during that time, and then later being unpleasantly surprised by the cedar fever.
There are a number of treatment options available, and if the symptoms are on the mild side, treatment can start and end at home. Keeping the doors and windows closed; vacuuming often; regularly changing your air filter; showering after being outdoors; and bathing your pets often all prove very effective. If you need an extra boost, you can try some nasal decongestants; eye drops; and over-the-counter antihistamines. In more severe cases, a trip to an allergist will be necessary to receive prescription medications, and an effective treatment plan for managing your allergies will be started.
This winter allergy is caused by a sensitivity to mold spores; and causes all the usual yet unpleasant symptoms of sneezing, coughing, a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, irritated eyes, and skin that becomes dry and scaly.
Risk factors for being allergic to mold include having a family history of allergies; exposure to mold in your occupation (carpentry, farming etc.); and living in an area that has high humidity, or a house that experiences excess moisture and has poor ventilation.
Mold allergies also have the potential to be serious: when a sufferer has asthma, exposure to mold can trigger asthmatic symptoms (wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing) and it should not be taken lightly.
Mold also has the potential to cause infections of the skin and mucous membranes in some sufferers.
Other respiratory health issues may arise when a sufferer is exposed to mold. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an inflammation within the lungs due to mold exposure; and allergic bronchopulmanory aspergillosis causes inflammation of the airways. When chronically exposed to mold, and if left untreated, this can lead to damage and scarring of the lung tissues.
If you are suffering from a sensitivity to mold, it’s best to see your allergist as to avoid these more serious reactions.
It's January in Austin. That means that Cedar pollen is going to be high for a while. Here's some humor to get you through the day.