For Allergy Sufferers, Season Starts Early

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It may only be early February, but allergy sufferers are already struggling with watery eyes and stuffy noses.

In North Alabama, the usual peak pollination time for trees is March and April, but pollen counts are already off the charts.

In a pollen count test done in Huntsville on February 2, the pollen grains totaled 262.

A total of 100 is considered a high count.

The unusually warm weather has led to early tree pollination, thus leading to early allergy attacks.

With this early start, allergy specialist Dr. Shashi A.M. Kumar of the Alabama Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Center on Pepperwood Circle in Huntsville said allergy sufferers should prepare themselves for a long allergy season.

"What happens is that as the season goes along, those who are even mildly allergic have some symptoms, there is an irritation or inflammation in the nose," said Dr. Kumar. "Towards the tail end of the season, even if the pollen count is low, you're already primed , so they tend to have more symptoms. So as the season goes along, they get worse."

Even if you don't have allergies, Dr. Kumar says you can still be affected by the high pollen count.

One of the biggest ways to help curb allergy symptoms is to reduce exposure to allergens.

Peak tree pollination time ranges from 5:00 am to 10:00 am.

Allergy sufferers should avoid outdoor activity during that time.

Also during those morning hours, keep house and car windows closed, as well as utilize the recirculation button in cars.