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Ragweed Is Here, And Allergy Sufferers Are Feeling It

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Allergy sufferers are already feeling the effects of what could be one of the worst allergy seasons in years.

Doctors at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, Minn., say they have been seeing more patients complain about symptoms related to ragweed.

“It can get to the point where I feel sick and down and out,” said Brandy Zemke. “It can really knock me down.”

She dreads this time of year.

Her symptoms?

“Sneezing, itching eyes, watery eyes, coughing, itchy throat,” she said, adding that her symptoms began at the start of Spring.

“Snow starting to melt, stuff like that, it was really hitting me hard,” Zemke said.

But she was hit especially hard this week.

Dr. Stephanie Fox, who treats Zemke, says that’s about the time she began getting calls from other patients.

“People were noticing they had a little bit more congestion, some drainage, a little more sneezing,” Fox said.

She says that, for many, allergy season will peak in two weeks.

“Usually mid-August we start to see ragweed show up, which is one of our most prominent allergens here in the United States and definitely in the Midwest,” Fox said.

From mid-August through mid-September, ragweed causes problems for allergy sufferers.

Ragweed likes hot, windy days. We’ve had quite of few of those, providing perfect conditions to spread pollen.

Fox believes our changing climate, super wet springs and dry and windy summers, is behind the surge in allergy symptoms.

She recommends trying over the counter medication, if that doesn’t work, got to your doctor.

Zemke uses a combination of oral meds and injections.

“I’ve been getting shots for the past four or five months, and [it's] dramatically different,” Zemke said. “I barely have any symptoms.”

Fox says pollen peaks during the day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

She says taking showers at night and keeping windows closed will also help cut down your reaction to pollen.

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