By Adam N. Williams, MDAllergy & Asthma

Most central Oregonians are aware that the area has a high density of juniper trees and many suffer each March and April with “juniper fever”, or nasal and eye allergy problems due to juniper pollen. Because of unseasonably warm weather, the juniper pollen has started to be released into the air over 4 weeks earlier than normal.

When juniper pollen is inhaled or deposited in the nose, eyes, and lungs, it can result in an allergic reaction that causes the symptoms that can range from a mild annoyance to severe debility and misery. The most common symptoms of juniper pollen allergies can include any combination of itchy, watery, red, and or swollen eyes, itchy nose, nasal congestion, frequent sneezing attacks, runny nose, sinus pressure, and postnasal drip. People with asthma that is triggered by juniper experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.

Here are some ideas to minimize exposure to juniper pollen:

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days
  • Avoid outdoor exercise in the morning, when pollen counts are highest
  • After outdoor activity, remove clothes and shower to remove the pollen from hair and skin

For many, juniper pollen cannot be avoided and treatment is necessary. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for treating juniper pollen allergies, including antihistamines, anti-inflammatory nasal sprays, allergy eye drops, and more. Discussing treatment options with your primary care doctor or seeing an allergist is the best way to learn how to use these treatments most effectively.

One more thing to keep in mind, once the juniper pollen starts, it will likely persist for at least 6-8 weeks. For many the start of juniper pollen season is the start of an allergy season that can last even longer because of allergies to pollen from other trees, grasses, and weeds.

To learn more and make an appointment with Dr. Williams, please call 541-706-2524.

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