Cedar Fever

Juniper aka Bastard Berries (photo from WikiCommons)

It’s the scourge of South Texas. It’s the mosquito of trees. It serves no purpose on earth other than to make humans itch and drip each winter. It’s the Juniper tree, aka Cedar. And I’ve been fighting (and losing) a mighty battle with the dastardly bush for years. But, not any more. With the help of my allergist I think I’ve finally created a plan that makes Cedar Fever a thing of my past. At least, it’s working so far. And everyone I meet wants to know my secret! (OK, not everyone. Maybe three people. Yes, OK, that’s about the sum total of everyone who reads this blog. But, still! One person saved from the clutches of Evil Cedar and my job here is done. Well, until I post again.).

Please remember: INAD (I’m Not a Doctor). I considered becoming  one, once. And then I took high school chemistry. *Ahem* But after years of suffering from Cedar Fever; after multiple sinus infections created by my severe allergy to this worthless shrub; after too many steroid shots to the hiney; after large doses of various antibiotic to restore my breathing and sense of taste; this is the protocol that works for me. Check with your doctor, preferably an allergist who’s as amazing as mine (Dr. Dennis Dilley) or an ENT who’s as awesome as mine (Dr. Charles Biediger), to be sure what you’re doing to ward off allergies is inline with what is safe and what your body needs.

fighting allergies in winter

Worth their weight in tissues

I started allergy shots for the first time last summer after allergy skin testing. I learned that I’m highly allergic to Cedar, dust mites, and roaches (Yeah, I know. ROACHES. I think we’re all highly allergic to roaches and the symptoms include screaming, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Ewwwwwwwww! Noooooooooo!” and jumping up on the nearest chair. Or moving into a new house. Or a new state. Which is a totally reasonable response to coming face to face with a roach.).

My allergist and I cannot swear that the short few months of receiving shots prior to Cedar season is completely responsible for keeping my allergies at bay (I believe the shots usually take 12-18 months to work really well against an allergen) but I know that the shots certainly haven’t hurt. Well, I mean, they do hurt. They’re shots. But, then again, I’m kind of a wuss. I’ve been getting them twice each week and will continue to get them through Cedar season and beyond.

This is your nose on steroids.

In addition to regular allergy shots, this is my daily regimen to keep Cedar Fever at bay:

1 Singulair – I take this for my dust mite allergy – those buggers can cause vasomotor rhinitis which is a fancy way of saying that the more moisture and humidity that’s in the air, the more dust mites multiply and poop and the worse headache I wake up with. Delightful, no? Singulair somehow helps with this. And, for me, it works really well. Haven’t woken up with a sinus headache in months.

1 Allegra – This is a miracle allergy medicine (for me – check with your doctor). As long as I don’t take Allegra with orange juice (which totally dilutes its potency, rendering it pointless and you helpless). I have friends who swear by Zyrtec and Claritin. I’ve tried both and neither works as well for me as Allegra.

1 puff in each nostril, once per day of Flonase (A nasal steroid. It reduces inflammation and allows my nose to bench press 200 pounds.)

2 puffs in each nostril, twice per day of Patanase (this gets rid of those itchy, drippy symptoms in about 30 minutes and keeps them away for most of the day)


Distilled water, people! DO NOT FORGET.

Last, but not least, I slurp a saline solution through my nose about twice each day. Yeah, don’t kid yourself  –  it’s a glamourous life I lead. I prefer to use a Sinus Rinse bottle, two packets of their saline mix and distilled water (BE SURE TO USE DISTILLED WATER with a Sinus Rinse bottle or a netipot unless you want  AMOEBA TO EAT YOUR BRAIN. Which is seriously, and decidedly, not glamourous. Oh! Also not glamourous? Sinus Rinsing right before your yoga class. Nothing says, “Namaste,” less than residual saline spewing out of your nose onto your yoga mat during downward facing dog. Not that I would know or anything…

I’ve been using this regimen for a few months now and for the first winter in years, I haven’t had a sinus infection. I haven’t taken antibiotics, I can play outside with my kids. I can walk around the block in the pretty South Texas winter weather without sneezing 800 times. Life is good and the breathing is easy!

Now, if I could only fight mosquitos as successfully…