CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Everywhere you look in the Charlotte area, cars are covered with yellow and green dust.

That's tree pollen and this year is much worse than last year, said Dr. Maeve O'Connor.

Pollen counts are taken daily at the Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center from February to November.

Today, oak pollen is 109 percent higher from last year and cedar tree pollen is 169 percent higher than last year, said O'Connor.

O'Conner says the extreme change in weather this year is to blame.

This last winter was cold and lasted longer. Now, we've had a burst of warm weather and I think everything is pollinating and going crazy, O'Connor said.

The Carolinas are no stranger to pollen problems. Charlotte is ranked the third worst city in the U.S. to live for allergies.

A lot of patients are coming in with itchy eyes, watery eyes, swelling around the eyes. They just want to scratch their eyes out, said O'Connor. If they've got the tree pollen allergy and the ozone is high and they have asthma -- that's a triple threat.

O'Conner recommends starting with over-the-counter medication. If that doesn't work after three days, call your doctor.

Tree pollen season will continue through the end of May. Grass pollen season starts in June and ragweed season begins in September.

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