BARRIE, ONT. -- Sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, stuffy or runny nose, coughing, all common signs that it's allergy season, and this year, those symptoms were triggered early.

"It's hard to imagine a worse year than we've had this year." Environment Canada's climatologist David Phillips says the warmer temperatures, lack of frost and dry May conditions have created the perfect storm.

"Rain is important," Phillips explains. "Particularly the occurrence of rain for scrubbing the air. You get all that injection of pollen into the air, and rain actually washes or cleanses the air."

Experts say local pollen counts in April and into May were in some cases 10 times higher than previous years.

Barrie resident Jenna Burton has suffered from seasonal allergies for as long as she can remember, saying anything from pollen to grass and hay is enough to cause a reaction.

"I get really stuffed up, congested and can't sleep at night," she says.

Experts suggest showering before bed and changing clothes after being outdoors to help control symptoms.

Health-care professionals also say to take an antihistamine early when pollen counts are high to get ahead of the allergens.

Dr. Anne Ellis says wearing a mask not only helps to protect against COVID-19 but also filters pollen and other allergens in the air.

"It's obviously a physical barrier to the inhalation of the pollen particles in your nose and upper airway," the Queen's University allergist says.

Health experts say that because allergy symptoms are similar to COVID-19 if in doubt, book a test.