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Allergy Experts Warn Of 'Pollen Tsunami'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - If you've been waking up lately with red, itchy eyes or stuffed up sinuses, you are not suffering alone.

Allergy experts are warning of a "pollen tsunami."

One of the biggest pollen hotzones spans the Northeast.

Blooming flowers, budding branches mean spring is in the air, and so is the pollen. It's everywhere, collecting in thick clumps on the ground and coating cars, CBS2's Mary Calvi reported.

Roxannne Borntreger recently suffered one of the worst allergy attacks she's ever had.

"I was miserable. I was hurting, and full of allergies, and I couldn't talk, I couldn't breathe," Borntreger said.

Normally, trees release their pollen in early spring. But the long, brutal winter delayed that until now, when other plants and grasses are just starting to release theirs.

For allergy sufferers, it's a perfect pollen storm.

"Right now, we have birch, oak, maple pollen in the Northeast, very prevalent," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. "If you're sensitive to those tree pollens, you're going to feel miserable."

Unfortunately for people with allergies, relief may not come any time soon.

A Rutgers researcher says climate change is causing allergy seasons to start earlier and last longer and that by 2040, pollen counts will be more than twice the levels they were in 2000, Calvi reported.

"No matter where you are, whether in a city, town or suburb, pollens are here to stay. They're rising," said Bassett. "You need to be ready for this pollen storm and have a game plan in place."

Some 50 million people have nasal allergies.

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