Seasonal Allergies

Overview and Allergy Symptoms

Chamisa, Mulberry, Pig Weed, Cedar and Juniper Allergies


An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic.  These substances are called allergens.  There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, pollen from trees, grass, and weeds like chamisa, mulberry, pig weed, cedar and juniper.

An allergic reaction to pollen is a seasonal allergy and can be called hay fever or allergic rhinitis.  Allergy symptoms include runny nose, itching, and nasal congestion.  Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels.

Seasonal allergies are a common problem in many if not most parts of the world, and Santa Fe, New Mexico is no exception.  One of the most common seasonal allergies in New Mexico is the juniper allergy.  Twenty to 30 percent of the population is allergic to juniper.  Junipers are coniferous plants of the cypress family.  Only the male juniper plants produce allergenic pollen.  The female plants are fertilized by the male plants and produce berries not allergies.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, juniper allergy seems to affect people starting in February and can last through March and into April.  In my professional experience as a family care physician, I have seen that people usually experience a wide-range of symptoms.  Some people have very mild allergy symptoms with just some sneezing and post-nasal drip.  Other people’s allergy symptoms include itchy, watery, puffy red eyes, runny, and/or stuffy, itchy nose, sore throat, coughing, headache, fatigue. All of these allergy symptoms combined can be debilitating at times.  Allergic reactions like this can also trigger an asthma attack in susceptible individuals.  If you think you have allergies and your symptoms are interfering with your life, you should consider seeing a health care provider for allergy medicine and allergy treatments. Aspen Medical Center provides consultations for allergies and if necessary, we can provide allergy specialist referrals for all types of allergies including chemical allergies, food allergies and seasonal allergies.


Allergy Treatments

Chamisa, Mulberry, Pig Weed, Cedar and Juniper Allergies

There are several allergy medicines that can be used to treat allergies and allergy symptoms including severe juniper allergies, which is the most common allergy in Santa Fe, New Mexcio. Other allergies common to the Santa Fe area include Mulberry or Pig Weed Allergies, cedar allergies and chamisa allergies. Allergy treatments and allergy medicines include antihistamines (some brand names: Claritin, Zyrtec), decongestant pills or nose sprays (brand names: Sudafed, Afrin), nasal steroid sprays, and eye drops.

Decongestant nose sprays or drops should not be used as an allergy medicine for more than three days in a row because you can become dependent on them.  Nasal steroid sprays, on the other hand, are often a very effective way to treat allergies, but you may not get the full benefit until one to two weeks after you start using them.  Nasal steroid sprays are available as an allergy treatment by prescription only.  Many of these allergy medicines work better if you start taking them even before you are exposed to allergens such as juniper pollen.  Eye drops can help with itchy, watery eyes that are the most common side effect of juniper allergies.

Other forms of allergy medicine include “allergy shots.” There are basically two kinds of allergy shots.  Immunotherapy shots are usually given by an allergist on a weekly basis.  These help to desensitize you to the allergens you are reacting to and over time your allergies become less severe.  These treatments often take a few months if not years to complete.  In New Mexico,  working as a family physician, I have noticed that some people get such severe allergies, especially to juniper, that they come in to the doctor’s office on a yearly basis requesting a Kenalog or steroid shot.  This type of allergy injection is not without side effects and you should speak with your health care provider to see if this type of treatment is appropriate for you. Aspen Medical Center provides various allergy treatments and we can provide allergy specialist referrals for all types of allergies including chemical allergies, food allergies and seasonal allergies.