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ATLANTA -- Swollen eyes? Running nose? Scratchy throat? Blame the pollen. Pollen counts in Atlanta Monday were 23 times the count on the same day in 2013.

"This is by far the highest count that we have had by this date in the past five years. In2012 we had peak counts toward the end of March. Last year the counts did not peak until early April," Dr. Stanley Fineman from the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic told 11Alive's Julie Wolfe.

Compare the pollen totals of the last several years (measured in pollen grains per cubic meter of air):

March 10, 2014: 943
March 10, 2013: 41
March 10, 2012: 51
March 10, 2011: 8
March 10, 2010: 462

Fineman says the cold snap coming later in the week will bring mixed results: "Cold snaps will knock the pollen counts down, as will rain. But as soon as the weather warms and the sun comes out, the pollen will be back. This also creates a phenomenon known as the 'Priming Effect.' This 'Priming Effect' occurs when someone with pollen allergy is exposed to that pollen, then the exposure is removed (such as with cold weather), and subsequently when that person is re-exposed to the allergen pollen, there can be even more dramatic allergic symptoms."

The main pollen in the air right now is coming from hardwood trees including elm, cedar, alder, and maple.

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