What are the worst cities for spring allergies in 2016?
It’s that time of year again. The trees are budding, spring flowers are coming into bloom, the grass is growing… and allergy medications are leaving the shelves.
It’s allergy season, and as much as many may look forward to warmer weather, tens of millions of North Americans brace themselves for a season of sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny noses, and coughing.
Where you live will, of course, have an impact, and to that end, the good people at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) have published their most recent list of the worst cities for spring allergies. If your city makes the list, you may be more susceptible than others.
It’s virtually impossible to escape allergies, as individual particles of pollen are tiny have a tendency to drift everywhere. The worst cities for allergies list was created by measuring the amount of pollen in the air, the amount of allergy pills taken, and the number of allergy doctors per patient. The list changes from year to year, though often, it’s a matter of the same cities switching positions.
But things change, including climate and the way pollen drifts, so any town in the U.S. could find itself as one of the worst cities for spring allergies. In fact, this year sees two newcomers to the list, both from New York state: Syracuse and Buffalo.
Why Are Some Cities Worse for Allergies?
It’s become an annual tradition of sorts to unveil the worst states for allergies. When the AAFA puts the list together, it considers only the most populated cities, taking into account the three factors mentioned earlier. The key factor that makes each city different, and makes some worse than others, is the type of vegetation that grows in the area. A greener city with more trees and grass will likely have higher concentrations of those respective pollens in the air. But there are other factors to consider, such as wind, temperature, and humidity, all of which help determine the worst cities for allergies for 2016.
Top 10 Worst Cities in the U.S. for Spring Allergies
Here are the top 10 worst cities for allergies in the U.S. for allergies for 2016, as reported by the AAFA:
1. Jackson, Mississippi
2. Memphis, Tennessee
3. Syracuse, New York
4. Louisville, Kentucky
5. McAllen, Texas
6. Wichita, Kansas
7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
8. Providence, Rhode Island
9. Knoxville, Tennessee
10. Buffalo, New York
If you’re tired of paying for medications each year, visit an allergist to get tested. There are measures you can take to protect yourself from pollen; and if you’re looking for a lifelong solution, you can take allergy injections.
Risk Factors for Your Spring Allergies
Every region has different risk factors for allergies.
- Mountainous areas have fewer plants, explains why certain states didn’t make the list. Pollen from evergreens is also heavier, so it remains airborne for shorter amounts of time.
- Pollen thrives in humidity, so you’ll find greater concentrations of it near river basins, as in Ohio and Mississippi.
- Coastal states and cities have lower pollen counts because of the ocean breeze; it keeps pollen moving. Exceptions to this are densely populated, heavily polluted cities; pollution exacerbates allergies.
- When it comes to allergies the Midwest is known for ragweed pollen, and some experts believe global warming is making ragweed season last longer than previous years. Tree pollen season in the Midwest typically lasts from March to June.
- In the Western states, tree pollination generally runs from February to June.
Tips for Avoiding Spring Allergies
As mentioned, avoiding pollen altogether is practically impossible, but below are some tips to help you stay out of harm’s way.
- Know the pollen count for your area. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has a site that maintains pollen counts.
- Once you know the pollen count, stay in when it’s high. Keep the windows shut and use the air conditioning if it’s too hot.
- If you have to be outside, some proper planning before you go out will help. Most plants pollinate between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
- Windy days are worse for allergy sufferers because pollen is whipping around.
- Your dog can carry pollen on its fur so avoid going out with it in the early morning on high-pollen days, and especially if those days are also windy.
- Take allergy medicines before going outside, not after.
With any luck, you won’t find yourself in one of the worst cities for allergies this year and in the years to come, but there’s no telling which city will make the list, so if you’re an allergy sufferer, it’s best to be armed with knowledge. Seasonal spring allergies are a pain, it’s true, but knowing pollen counts and the best times to go outside can help keep them at bay.
Unless you live in a bubble, you’ll never be able to escape allergies completely, so learning to cope with them is the best available remedy. If allergies are a serious problem that affect your day-to-day living, then see an allergist to discuss long-term strategies.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Allergy Relief Tips Wherever You Go,” Web MD web site; http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-relief-10/worst-allergy-cities, last accessed March 28, 2016.
“10 Worst Cities for Spring Allergies,” Web MD web site;
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/ss/slideshow-worst-cities-for-spring-allergies, last accessed March 28, 2016.
“Your Pollen Survival Guide,” Web MD web site;
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/pollen-survival-guide, last accessed March 28, 2016.
“Spring Allergy Capitals 2016,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America web site; http://www.aafa.org/media/Spring-Allergy-Capitals-2016-Rankings.pdf, last accessed March 28, 2016.