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Sneezing more than usual? Cedar pollen reaches a high
(Strollers/CC)

In a time when COVID-19 is spreading fast, a simple cough or sneeze at the grocery store could land you some dirty looks. If you've been feeling a little more under the weather recently, you're not alone.


Austin is reporting some of the highest cedar pollen counts of the last decade. Pollen counts reached 29,745 grains per cubic meter of air, KXAN reported, the third-highest count since daily records began 25 years ago.

On an average day, cedar counts would range from 100-500 grains per cubic meter of air. Cedar pollen counts haven't been this high since the mid-90s, at 32,000 grains per cubic meter.

The pink dots are pollen grains under a microscope.(Sheila M. Amar, M.D.)

Cedar fever has been soaring since last weekend, so buckle up. Cedar fever is a seasonal allergy caused when people inhale the pollen from mountain cedars, drought-resistant evergreen trees common in Central Texas. Allergies tend to be most severe in December, January and February.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some overlap between cedar fever and COVID-19. If you have itchy, watery eyes and frequent sneezing, you may have nothing to worry about.

Overlapping symptoms include a cough, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat and headaches. If you're experiencing those plus some COVID-19 symptoms, high fever, chills, body aches, loss of taste and smell, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, a test might be in order.

Austinite Ruth Belmonte said cedar fever has made her miserable this year.

"My nose constantly runs, (and I get) a pounding headache which eventually turns into a migraine," Belmonte said. "I've taken meds and nothing helps. I wear masks constantly, which have to be removed 24/7 because I have to blow my nose."

Austinites are certainly suffering, much like every year.


The good news is, wearing a mask can actually help mitigate allergy symptoms because most of the pollen will stick to the outside of the mask, with the added benefit of protecting against the spread of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.

Ideally, allergy sufferers should limit their time outside, make use of a neti pot, eat some local honey, pop some over-the-counter allergy pills and maybe invest in a HEPA filter for home.


More on cedar fever:

Fever pitch: When the pandemic and cedar fever season collide in Central Texas


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