Experts have warned hay fever sufferers in Northern Ireland to brace themselves for a miserable July with the air pollen count expected to remain high through the summer.
It is thought the harsh winter could be the reason why so much pollen is being produced now.
Earlier this month Queen's University in Belfast launched Northern Ireland's only air pollen sampler, which has revealed pollen levels have increased over the past few days.
Dr Chris Hunt said: "Our data suggests the higher levels of pollen have already arrived so people with hay fever will probably have noticed their symptoms getting worse.
"We are getting pollen counts higher than we have had by quite a long way. I would say the whole week is going to be painful for hay fever sufferers. In fact, I think it is going to continue until the beginning of August."
A Belfast doctor has reported an increase in the number of people asking for antihistamines to tackle hay fever.
Dr Michael McKenna said he received five requests for hay fever medication in just one morning: "We are seeing a lot of people suffering from hay fever."
"People should avoid the obvious, like freshly mown grass, and keep their windows shut.
"They should go to their pharmacist for over-the-counter remedies and if they don't work they can see their GP," he said.
Avoid pollen by:
- staying indoors as much as possible when the pollen count is high and keep windows shut
- avoid cutting grass
- shower and wash hair after being outdoors
- wear sunglasses when driving and outdoors
- keep car windows closed and consider buying a pollen filter for the air vents in the car