By Angela Monroe. CREATED Feb 20, 2014
Are you suffering from a runny nose and itchy eyes?
It may not be a cold -- it could be your allergies.
Local doctors are saying this year's allergy season appears to be hitting the Coachella Valley early, and the symptoms can sometimes mimic a cold.
Normally the allergy season is at its worst when crews begin switching out the grasses from winter to summer grass, but this year it's the weather playing a role in higher than normal pollen levels.
Valley visitor, Brent Truitt, enjoys playing catch with his dog here in desert, but his allergies are already giving him trouble.
"We've noticed a couple little bouts here, I've had a couple little bouts here of allergies this month."
Part-time resident, Melvin Kay enjoys being out in nature, so he takes an antihistamine every day to combat his allergies.
"This happens to be an area where it seems to be less polluted, but with the drier weather coming, I think that the dust will increase and there may be more problems."
At Desert Regional Medical Center, Dr. Gemma Kim says she is already seeing more patients suffering from allergies this month.
"Mostly coming in for cold-like symptoms, maybe a low-grade fever, sinus congestion, runny nose, sometimes the itchy eyes, the sore throat ear pain." said Dr. Kim, program director at the UCR School of Medicine.
Pollen levels will remain high all week, but they will be falling slightly because we don't have strong winds.
The pollen levels are high this week for the valley.
Usually the worst times are spring or early fall, so it's happening early this year.
"I think the main cause of that is the drought we are going through and the dry season, so the winds are picking up, things are very dry and with the heat, things are just blowing around, so it's really exacerbating people's allergies," said Dr. Kim.
Dr. Kim says over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin and Benadryl should help people be able to continue to enjoy the outdoors even with the high pollen levels.
"We come out here because we enjoy it, it's a great place to be, and as long as I cam avoid my allergies with medication, I'm okay," said Kay.
Meanwhile, Brent says they're leaving earlier this year specifically to avoid allergy season.
"This month is not too bad, but last year was the year it was really bad and that was April. I suffered really bad through that whole month," said Truitt.
Dr. Kim also told us while many people equate the desert with low pollen, it's actually often the opposite because of the dry conditions, heat and the high winds that blow all the pollen around.