JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Sneezing and sniffling?  Allergies symptoms getting worse or flaring up sooner this year?  You may be able to blame the wet winter we had.  In the Jacksonville area, Channel 4 Meteorologist Blake Mathews says we had nearly four more inches of rain from January 1 to March 26, than we did last year.  That's not counting the rain we've had over the past couple of days. That wet weather has set the stage for a potentially bad allergy season. 

"We're a little worried that maybe it might be a bad allergy season, only because we had a lot of precipitation over the winter. And when you have a lot of precipitation, obviously, you have more water in the soil and plants can grow better. So, you get more plants, equals more pollen," explained Dr. Rachel Szekely who treats allergy patients at Cleveland Clinic.

Szekely says she's seeing patients already feeling the effects. They're coming in complaining of itchy watery eyes, runny noses, and of course, sneezing. She says your best defense is to start taking your allergy medication now. It's important to get out in front of your symptoms because once they get really bad, they become difficult to control.

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You should also keep in mind that pollen is worst at dusk and dawn. Szekely says rain, like we've been seeing, will help wash some of the pollen away, but it will also bring about another concern.

"The people with pollen allergies usually get better when it rains or the ground is damp. However, people who have mold allergy have a problem with that because the mold spores are in the air," she said.

Szekely adds that keeping your windows closed and running the air conditioning, even on days that aren't so hot, can help keep allergens at bay.

And as Channel 4's George Winterling often advises, you can also try rinsing off your shoes and taking a quick shower after being outside to keep pollen from lingering inside the home.