Just when you were finished sneezing and feeling stuffy from that winter cold, prepare to start sneezing and feeling stuffy from the springtime pollen count.

The beginning of allergy season doesn’t hit everybody hard, but for those who tend to suffer most, the next couple of weeks could be particularly miserable.

Allergist and immunologist Dr. David Fitzhugh of Chapel Hill explains why:

“With a typical, relatively mild winter in the southeastern United States, we have a gradual release of the spring pollens,” he says. “And typically, we see this coming on in late February, or the beginning of March.

“But because we had such an unusually harsh and cold winter this year, that spring pollen has been delayed quite a bit.

That means that instead of a gradual release of spring pollen, we’re lookin at what Fitzhugh calls a “sudden explosion.”

“Having the sustained temperatures – particularly, nightly temperatures above 50 and daily temperatures above 65, 70, we’ll see a very rapid increase in the spring pollens in the next couple of weeks.”

He says it could peak any time, two-to-four weeks from now.

Fitzhugh, who runs Allergy Partners of Chapel Hill, recommends that mild-to-moderate allergy sufferers take over-the-counter antihistamines daily.

If symptoms persist, nasal steroids could be the answer. Fitzhugh says that if none of those things work, you may want to consider getting an allergy shot.

To check pollen counts in your area, click here.