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Pollen season is starting earlier this year; what you need to know

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Posted at 1:55 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 17:25:49-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Scientists say pollen season is starting earlier, and with both allergies and COVID-19, we need to pay attention to symptoms more than ever.

Pollen loads are 21% higher since 1990, and a huge part of that is due to global warming -- that's according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. The study found that pollen season has gradually shifted earlier over the years; 20 days earlier now compared to 1990. Many allergists are recommending that patients start taking their medications earlier, around Valentine’s Day.

Dr. Stokes Peebles, an allergist at Vanderbilt, said allergies impact 30-40% of Americans. The gradual shift in the season shouldn't affect more people, but Dr. Peebles says anyone who typically has bad spring-time allergies, may have more symptoms and need to take extra medications.

As we know, COVID-19 has all of us worrying when we experience symptoms -- so paying attention to your body is going to be key.

“I think if you have people who have allergic disease and they have symptoms that are not typical for them that they should be thinking about the possibility of COVID and being tested and certainly if they test positive, they need to quarantine so other people aren’t at risk,” said Dr. Peebles.

Some of the symptoms that are common for both allergies and COVID are runny nose, cough, nasal congestion and shortness of breath. However, the specific COVID-related signs to be watching out for are fever and loss of taste and smell.