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Sneezing or freezing? Many Dickinson allergy sufferers miserable past few weeks and may not let up until first freeze

At work, on the street and at home, there is plenty of coughing, sneezing and sniffling.

"Seasonal allergies are very common this time of year," said Kamille Sherman, M.D. at Medcenter One Clinic in Dickinson.

Sherman said many dusts, grasses, trees and weeds are releasing allergens and some sufferers won't get relief until it freezes.

Dickinson resident Tisha Raber is among those who could use relief.

"I have been suffering from allergies since I was in high school when we lived in Scranton," Raber said. "The open fields just exposed me to things I hadn't been exposed to before."

Raber said though moving to Dickinson, living in town and taking over-the-counter medications has helped, without the medications she is miserable.

"It (allergies) affects my quality of life because I have to be careful of where I go and what I do," Raber said. "I can't be around animals because of my allergies, so going over to a friend's house where they have pets can be tough at times."

She added most of the time she just "puts up with them," until she can't take it when medications don't seem to help.

Sherman said allergies are a body's immune system responding to a foreign substance.

When the response is strong, a person's body releases histamine which may lead to watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itchy ears, a tickle in the throat and coughing, she said.

Dickinson Green Drug Pharmacist Lisa Brennan said the store has seen many sufferers coming in lately.

"I think a lot of new people, those that just moved here recently, are suffering because there are a lot of new allergens for them that they have not experienced before," she said.

"Typically it's hay fever that we are seeing," Brennan said.

Sherman suggests allergy sufferers stay indoors when possible, take over-the-counter medications, get an air purifier or use an air conditioner instead of opening windows.

"These actions lessen symptoms for some people," Sherman said.

Some people respond to steroids which can be taken orally or injected, she said.

"If people experience these problems year after year, allergy testing may be a good idea," Sherman said.

Allergy testing and desensitization shots are available, Sherman said.

The tests look for environmental triggers that could be helped with injections.

"It can be a long process," Sherman said. "Somewhere between two and five years of weekly to bi-weekly injections after testing is complete, but if a person is a good candidate and their allergies greatly impact their quality of life the process may be worth it."

Brennan said allergy sufferers will see relief as cold sets in.

"Once it freezes up most allergies go away," Brennan said.