KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennessee is one of the most challenging places to live if you have allergies with Knoxville ranked as number 35 out of the top 100 list by the Asthma, and Allergy Foundation of America.

Sue Wright has lived in Knoxville for years and decided to spend her Wednesday outdoors with her family. She said her favorite season is spring,

“Spring is beautiful. But we’ve had warm weather, so we got flowers coming up.”

As those flowers bloom, pollen starts to fill the air, Wright says that’s when her allergy symptoms start. 

“Running nose, sneezing, not a sore throat really but just sneezing. Almost like a cold but not quite,” said Wright.

All that pollen causes allergy sufferers to, well, suffer.

“Tree pollen is the first thing that comes out and we’re kind of in the mild to moderate category. I expect that to get worse in the next week or two as it dries out a little bit and gets warmer,” said Allergy Specialist Dr. Andrew Singer with Allergy & Asthma Affiliates.

Singer said that East Tennessee has certain characteristics that can worsen allergy symptoms.

“We are in this bowl as you mentioned that seems to trap pollen. We don’t have the winds that come through and clear the air for example. We also have a little bit more position than I’d like to see and that contributes to allergies.”

“There are more species of trees there than pretty much anywhere in the United States. So it gives a lot of pollen diversity,” he adds.

Singer said his biggest allergy sufferers are his smallest patients.

“I typically take care of about 70% children and at this time we’ll see their asthma, we’ll see their allergies, their ear infections all related to this problem.”

There are steps you can take to make your time outdoors a little more bearable.

“If its mild allergy symptoms of itching and sneezing, start off with some of the over-the-counter medicines,” Singer said. “We have several good over-the-counter antihistamines. If it’s beyond that then you want to check in with your doctor.”

“So, if you’re here visiting and notice your allergies are a little worse than normal, Dr. Singer said, “some of the things that aren’t medicine related, take a shower after you’ve been outside. Wash your face, wash your hair, get the pollen off of your skin for example.”

Singer says spring allergies typically start in the middle of February and more grass pollen begin to bloom in April and May.