SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As the weather gets warmer and more folks go outside, allergy season is becoming more active around the Ozarks. OzarksFirst spoke with an allergist-immunologist at CoxHealth about how people can prepare before you even feel the effects.

Dr. Minh-Thu Le tells OzarksFirst that COVID-19 restrictions changing around southwest Missouri has made an impact this allergy season.

“Masks are coming off and people really enjoying where we are,” Dr. Le said. “It’s all outdoors. I think a lot of people are doing things like that, camping more. Wood, smoke, things like that are also irritants and allergens for a lot of people as well.”

She says she feels like allergies hit a milestone every year with how severe they can get. Dr. Le adds that the region is feeling an impact from its recent rainy days. She says after it rains, people will see a lot more mold around town.

“Mold is probably going to be higher these next few days. Then of course after that everything’s continuing to grow. We’re going to see more pollens. If the wind picks up or picks things up and everything goes into the air, we’re all going to feel it.”

When rain is in the forecast, Dr. Le tells her patients to start taking their nasal steroid, nasal rinses or antihistamine.

Dr. Le tells OzarksFirst you can almost time when your allergy season is going to start. She recommends taking your allergy medicine before you get sick. That way when somebody’s allergies start back up again, they’ll be more prepared for it.

If you do some outside work this time of year, she recommends wearing a mask.

“All that pollen will be going straight into your nose and into your lungs. Masking isn’t just for COVID. I’ve been recommending that for people who work outdoors landscaping and things like that for a long, long time. I definitely would consider that as your allergies are typically worse outside.”

While the pandemic continues, OzarksFirst asked Dr. Le how to tell the difference between your allergies and COVID-19. She says a lot of people know when their season is, and when that time comes they can assume it’s allergies.

“COVID has been low in our area for a few weeks now, and so I think everybody is kind of breathing a sigh of relief about that. Some allergy symptoms can definitely look like COVID and vice versa. If anybody is worried we have a multitude of tests they can do at home.”

Dr. Le says if you think your allergy symptoms are more severe and lasting longer than they normally would, get tested for COVID-19. She tells OzarksFirst she is seeing a lot of sinusitis right now, which is when the tissue lining up your sinuses swells up. Dr. Le mentions you can have sinus symptoms with COVID or allergies, which is when she would recommend taking a test.

“Hopefully we’ll get through this season. That’s one of the things we can count on in this day and age is making sure that we have allergy seasons because that’s something that we’re going to continue to deal with.”

Health experts say people who have bad allergies this time of year should stay inside, and stock up on medicine.