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updated 3/7/2011 11:49:07 AM ET 2011-03-07T16:49:07

Spring allergy season has started early in the South. And that’s not the worst news. Experts say it’s also going to last longer this year.

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Allergy sufferers in the South typically start feeling symptoms in mid-March. But this year, the sneezing, sore throats, and watery eyes started in late-February. For those of you trying to do the math at home, that’s about three weeks ahead of schedule.

“Since the weather is warming earlier, the pollen comes out earlier,” Dr. Stanley Fineman with the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic explains.

The South definitely saw an unusually warm February. By the second weekend of the month, temperatures shot into the 60s and 70s.

So why can’t an early beginning mean an early end? Again, Dr. Fineman says you can blame the weather. His research shows “it’s going to get colder again, so pollen count will go down again. But by mid-to-late March it will go up again.”

Even if you’re not struggling now, chances are you will be in a few weeks. Remember, allergy triggers are different from person to person. If yours are going nuts right now, trees are likely what’s triggering your allergies. If grass pollens are what make you tick, then April will be your primetime for problems.

At first, the early spring temperatures were a relief to Southerners. (Remember, Atlanta saw a rare Christmas Day snowfall. And then two weeks later came the historic winter storm that caused major headaches from Atlanta to Nashville to Charlotte. ) But now as the ugly side of Spring is revealing itself early, you have to wonder if allergy sufferers miss the snow, even just a little.

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