Trees have been already been blooming and pollen has gotten an early start this year because of record warmth in February. It won't let up anytime soon.

Monday's pollen count from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau was 767. The "Extremely Heavy" category for spring is anything more than 120. A few days ago the count was only 23.

Dr. Lee Perry at the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic has been busy recently, seeing long-time patients who have been coming back for treatment. He says outdoor allergies can last a lifetime.

"Allergies are very unpredictable, but for someone to outgrow their allergies to pollen is very rare," Dr. Perry explained. "Sometimes it happens when we're elderly."

New patients have tried almost everything to reduce their symptoms but have needed more help.

"They've already been on antihistamines, nasal sprays, allergy eye drops, antibiotics," Dr. Perry said. "By the time they get to us, they're looking for a real fix. A real cure so to speak. Allergy shots can offer that."

Jianna Krueger has had pollen allergies for years. Medication helps on most days, but on high-pollen days, she can't go outside.

"I can get sick, actually sick," Krueger said. "There have been points when I haven't been able to breathe. I've gotten asthma from being sick."

She also said that on the worst days, her eyes swell shut.

Mignon Hunt moved to Chattanooga eight years ago with no allergy problems, but she's been thinking recently she might be sensitive to pollen.

"Sometimes I break out and get red all over my face," Hunt explained. "I haven't pinpointed it, which is why I'm going to get tested."

Dr. Perry says it can take a few years for non-sufferers who have moved here to display symptoms.

If you've been suffering from allergies for a long time, Perry said the best thing you can do is stick to your medications and shots. If you think you're allergic to anything, he said it's important to get tested. This allows the doctor to prescribe a treatment tailored just for you.

"We want to figure out exactly what they're allergic to," Dr. Perry added. "Once we figure out what they're allergic to that helps us to make an allergy shot mix specifically for that patient."

To help cleanse your body of pollen, Dr. Perry also said to use a nasal wash after doing gardening or yard work.

To keep pollen out of your home, allergists suggest the following tips:

  • Taking off your shoes before going inside
  • Keeping windows closed at home and in your car
  • Taking a shower before bed
  • Keeping pets out of your bed

Also, check the pollen count on the WRCB Weather app. It's updated every weekday.