Cedar fever isn’t actually a fever. It’s an allergic response to mountain cedar trees.
When you inhale the pollen that the trees produce, you may experience the unpleasant cedar fever symptoms.
Keep reading to find out more about cedar fever, including how you can treat and prevent your symptoms.
Cedar fever is essentially a seasonal allergy. Pollen from the cedar tree, like many other allergens, can cause an inflammatory response in your body.
When you inhale cedar pollen, the substances in the pollen trigger your immune system.
Although the pollen itself is harmless, your immune system generates an inflammatory response to block what it sees as a potentially dangerous intruder. This is similar to how it protects you from viruses and bacteria.
About mountain cedar trees
Mountain cedar trees most commonly cause the condition, but they aren’t actually cedar trees. They’re members of the juniper family called Juniperus ashei. People just happen to call them cedars.
You can find mountain cedar trees in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. They’re evergreens and don’t usually grow taller than 25 feet.
Interestingly, only the male mountain cedar trees distribute pollen. The female trees produce seed-filled berries but no pollen.
The small, light pollen granules produced by male mountain cedars can be carried long distances by the wind. These small granules are easy to inhale and can cause allergic reactions.
Cedar fever symptoms include the following:
- blocked nasal passages
- itchy, watery eyes
- itchy sensation all over
- partial loss of smell
- runny nose
- sore throat
Some people may have a slight increase in body temperature due to cedar fever, but the condition doesn’t usually cause a fever higher than 101.5°F (38.6°C). If you have a high fever, cedar fever probably isn’t the cause.
You can treat cedar fever by taking medications commonly used to treat allergies.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines
OTC antihistamines that can treat cedar fever include:
- cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- fexofenadine (Allegra)
- loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)
If you find you’re very stuffed up, you can also take OTC nasal decongestants. Many are nasal sprays, like oxymetazoline (Afrin). Oral decongestants include phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) or pseudoephedrine (Suphedrine).
Some medications combine antihistamines with decongestants. Manufacturers commonly indicate these medications by adding “-D” to the name, such as Allegra-D, Claritin-D, and Zyrtec-D.
Prescription allergy treatments
If you don’t feel better with OTC treatments, you can talk to an allergist. This is a doctor who specializes in treating allergies and asthma.
They may prescribe allergy shots. These shots expose you to increasing amounts of allergens over time. This helps your body react less severely the next time you’re exposed to cedar pollen.
Most people report experiencing cedar fever anywhere from November to March. However, cedar trees tend to produce their heaviest amounts of pollen from December to February.
If cedar fever affects you, you’ll likely need to be especially vigilant during these months.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent cedar fever at home:
- Keep doors and windows closed whenever possible to keep the pollen out.
- Change your air conditioning filter regularly — about every 3 months. Choosing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is especially helpful because it filters smaller particles.
- Check pollen levels before you spend time outdoors. Save tasks like mowing the lawn or doing yard work for when pollen levels are low.
- Clean your home regularly to minimize dust and pollen exposure.
- Take a shower and change your clothes after you go outdoors. This can remove pollen from your hair and clothes.
- Bathe pets frequently. This applies to indoor pets too, as their fur tends to attract pollen, even when they aren’t outdoors frequently.
If you experience extreme cedar fever symptoms, you may want to consider removing any cedar trees around your home. You can replace the trees with less allergenic trees, such as ash, elm, or oak.
If your cedar fever doesn’t improve with OTC treatments, or you’re missing work or school because of your symptoms, consider seeing an allergy doctor.
They can prescribe and recommend additional treatments that can help relieve your symptoms.
The good news is that cedar fever is usually limited to a season. Once you make it past the winter months, you should have less severe symptoms.
Taking steps to prevent and treat cedar fever can usually help keep your allergy symptoms at bay.