If you feel especially sneezy this spring season in San Diego County, you’re far from the only alone. Here’s why allergies are particularly bad this year.

Many San Diego County residents have noted that their allergies were seemingly worse this year than prior years. Experts note that there’s a reason for that. And, luckily, there are many things you can do about it.

Here’s everything you need to know about allergy season in San Diego this year.

It’s the Pollen

Although there are a wide range of different allergens that can cause you to sneeze and cough, the main one causing issues in San Diego County is pollen.

Pollen, which can appear as a fine dust, is part of a flowering plant’s reproductive cycle. More specifically, it’s the fertilizing element — and it is specifically meant to be carried on the wind or dispersed by plants and animals.

Although pollen is a critical aspect of the local ecology in San Diego County, it can also cause issues for those prone to allergies. If you breathe in these spores, it can result in hay fever, which manifests as symptoms like itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, and, yes, sneezing.

According to NBC 7 San Diego, meteorologists have tracked elevated pollen levels in the past month or so. With the higher amount of pollen in the air, there are more reports of allergies across the region.

Hay fever does not affect everyone, however. According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, the condition — which is also known as allergic rhinitis — affects roughly 50 million Americans annually. It costs more than $5 billion annually because of lost productivity, doctor’s visits, and treatment.

Why is the Pollen Count So High?

The high pollen count and unusually bad allergy season in San Diego has one primary cause — the rain. Our region has seen an unusual amount of rain this year. In fact, recent storms have actually broke rainfall records multiple times since January.

Because of all the rain, there is an unusually high amount of flowers blooming all across San Diego County. While it’s a beautiful sight, it can also mean worsening symptoms of hay fever for those that suffer from allergies.

It’s not just your traditional flowers that could cause issues. The rains have also resulted in blooming of trees, grasses, and weeds. Some of these other spore-producing plants are undoubtedly making allergy season worse for many in San Diego.

San Diego weather can also be a culprit. Although rain can cause bigger blooms of flowering plants, warm and sunny days can spur them to release more pollen into the air. As such, San Diego’s typical winter mix of rainy days and sunshine days can make the situation worse.

What to Do About Allergies in San Diego

Luckily, there are a number of things to do if you suffer from seasonal allergies. For one, it’s recommended that you consider allergy testing so that you know exactly what is causing your allergies.

Here are some additional tips for beating allergies this spring season in San Diego County.

  • Take over-the-counter allergy medicines, such as antihistamines. These can reduce the symptoms of watery and itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing.
  • Keep windows shut and try to use air conditioning instead. This applies to both your car and your home.
  • Schedule outdoor activities to before dawn or in the evening. Some pollen counts increase right after sunrise, tend to peak at midday, and then decrease into the night.
  • Invest in a portable air purifier or HEPA filter. If you must keep the windows in your house open because it’s warm, then consider using a portable air filter or fan.
  • Take a shower after you spend any time outdoors. This can help remove the pollen that has clung to your body or your clothing.
  • Check the weather. Specifically, look at temperature and wind speeds. As mentioned earlier, heat can make pollen counts higher. Wind can help disperse pollen, which can make your hay fever worse.

Experts say that, if all else fails, you should consider speaking with an allergy specialist. Untreated seasonal allergies tend to get worse without the right kind of mitigation.