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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing.
It can be a tricky time of year for people with allergies, and doctors say pollen counts are on the rise.
Some areas, like the southeastern U.S., are seeing pollen counts roughly 10% higher than normal. And people are feeling it.
“Usually I get congested like all in to here, and I get one of those headaches where it’s just pounding,” said Rachel Scott-Mohammed, who was taking photos at Freedom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week.
Scott-Mohammed is no stranger to allergies. She says she usually gets allergies for about a week tops, but this year is different.
“Three to four-ish weeks where I’ve had this lingering cough,” she said.
“Our pollen surged like I’ve never seen it on those days in March. I almost never see that,” said Dr. Donald Dvorin, a New Jersey-based allergist and certified pollen counter. He collects and identifies pollen for research.
Dvorin says trees are producing more pollen right now.
“Pine trees are pollinating much earlier this year. I have not seen that ever,” he said.
Peak allergy season depends on where you live. Warmer areas tend to peak earlier.
For example, Dvorin says pine pollen levels have already likely peaked in Daytona Beach, Florida; the Bay Area in Northern California; and Atlanta. Meanwhile, areas like Seattle, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., likely won’t peak until May.
Birch and oak trees are other pollen producers that may peak at slightly different times, according to Dvorin.
“We’re seeing a large number of people who are suffering every day,” he said.
Dvorin says people with allergies shouldn’t wait until experiencing symptoms to take allergy medication.
“If they can start it a week before and religiously take their medicine, they will have a dramatic improvement when it really hits,” he said.
Dvorin says if you’re congested, coughing or wheezing day and night, that could be considered a more severe case and is worth getting checked by a doctor.