RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — While a few famous groundhogs predicted a late spring this year, that hasn’t stopped weather, tree pines and pollen from prompting an early start to a different season — allergy season.

Local allergists like Dr. William Hark with Richmond Allergy and Asthma Specialists confirm they’ve seen an uptick in allergy patients so far this year.

“This is going to be a very bad allergy season,” Dr. Hark said.

Dr. Jaimin Patel explained how Richmond is consistently ranked in the top ten — and more recently, top five — worst cities to live in with allergies.

“It’s the weather patterns,” Dr. Patel began. “So typically, warmer weather, also surrounded by more flatlands but hills and mountains around it, is like the perfect environment for a lot of allergens to stick around.”

Thursday, Feb. 23 saw record-breaking temperatures, which only contributed to the problem.

“Most years in Richmond, you can start to get pollen in mid-February,” Dr. Hark clarified. “But pollen has been much worse and much earlier than usual.”

Allergies typically peak in April. Therefore, from now until then, doctors note that it is a smart idea to keep doors closed, prevent your pets from entering rooms you sleep in and try to keep your car’s AC set to “recirculate” air.

Symptoms like sneezing, coughing, mild wheezing and runny noses are common and can usually be treated with nasal spray or antihistamines like Zyrtec or Allegra. However, physicians warn there are a few symptoms you should keep an extra close eye on that could warrant a visit to your local physician.

“If you’re having trouble breathing. Things like wheezing, some patients have eye swelling, lip swelling,” Dr. Patel said. “Those are the things that we should address sooner, rather than later. Because that can be life threatening.”