KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Many people in East Tennessee are making doctors appointments, but it's not because of the typical seasonal illnesses. Instead of the flu or a cold, a growing number of people are visiting the allergist.
Morgan Lambert, a nurse practitioner at the Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center in Farragut, is unusually busy for this time of year.
"Usually during the winter we have a little lull because there's not a whole lot pollinating," she said.
But January and February temperatures in the 50s and even the 60s can be confusing to Mother Nature.
"When we start seeing spikes in weather and the temperature is increasing, then we'll see more tree pollen start coming out. And there's early tree pollen and late tree pollen and also the grasses pick up in early spring to late summer so we may see some of that earlier," Lambert explained.
That means a lot of people's spring allergies have already hit.
"I've had lots of complaints of itchy, watery eyes, lots of eye symptoms, lots of nasal symptoms like we would see during the middle of spring, sneezing, drainage, congestion, especially on days when it's windy," Lambert said.
She recommends that allergy suffers start their normal spring prevention measures at the first sign of trouble.
"They may have been able to previously wean off a lot of their allergy medications during the winter, and that's not really been the case," she said.
Lambert says if over-the-counter medicine doesn't work, you can make an appointment with an allergist who can prescribe something like an inhaler or possibly recommend allergy shots.
Other people are sick with colds or other viruses right now, which can have some similar symptoms to allergies. The main difference is a fever. Allergies don't cause that.