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(WBIR - Knoxville) Spring is just around the corner and that means a lot of sneezing and sniffling for those who suffer from allergies in East Tennessee.

"The pollen is waiting. It's in the trees. The buds are ready to open," said Dr. Robert "Bob" Overholt, a doctor with the Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center.

When those buds open in a couple of weeks, many who suffer from pollen allergies will find themselves experiencing some very familiar symptoms: sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes.

Dr. Bob said he has already treated a few patients for pollen allergies, especially with cedar and pine already being very high in East Tennessee's air.

Some national allergy experts expect this spring to be one of the worst for allergies in a long time due to all of the rain, ice, and snow. The precipitation causes trees to take in more water and produce more pollen. But Dr. Bob said East Tennessee won't feel the full impact for a couple weeks.

"We really don't know. We're going to have to see how the weather is. We going to see how much warmth is there and how much rain is there. But you can count on one thing, spring hay fever will be here."

To get ahead of the spring misery, those who suffer from pollen allergies are encouraged to get ready early.

"If you can start using your topical nasal steroids, your topical antihistamines, then when the hay fever season comes you'll have some medicine on to protect you," said Dr. Bob.

Dr. Bob said the only real way to prevent allergies from attacking is to get allergy shots, but patients must start taking them a year in advance. He also recommends people get skin tested to find out exactly what they're allergic to.

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