Itâs 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.
Itâs virtually impossible to escape allergies, as individual particles of pollen are tiny and 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, itâs 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. Read on to see if your hometown made the list this year.
Why Are Some Cities Worse for Allergies?
Itâs 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 2018.
Top 10 Worst Cities in the U.S. for Spring Allergies
Here are the top 10 worst cities for spring allergies in the U.S. for 2018, as reported by the AAFA:
1. McAllen, Texas
2. Louisville, Kentucky
3. Jackson, Mississippi
4. Memphis, Tennessee
5. San Antonio, Texas
6. Providence, Rhode Island
7. Dayton, Ohio
8. Syracuse, New York
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
10. Knoxville, Tennessee
There has been a lot of movement since 2016, the most recent year for which the city rankings are available. McAllen, Texas, climbed from No. 5 all the way to No. 1, while Jackson, Mississippi, fell from No. 1 to No. 3.
Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, Tennessee, simply switched places. Louisville rose to No. 2, and Memphis dropped to No. 4. San Antonio, Texas, is a new entry to the top 10 worst cities, skyrocketing to the fifth spot from the 22nd in 2016.
Dayton, Ohio, also cracked the top 10 this year, and jumped four places to No. 7 from No. 11.
Wichita, Kansas, on the other hand, fell out of the top 10, improving its ranking from sixth worst city in 2016 to the 22nd position this year. Buffalo, New York, also dropped out, tumbling from No. 10 in 2016 to No. 23 for this yearâs list.
If youâre 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 youâre looking for a lifelong solution, you can take allergy injections.
Top 10 Best Cities for Spring Allergies in 2018
Now that youâve seen the worst, youâre probably wondering what cities are the best for spring allergies in 2018. This means, according to the AAFAâs top 100 list, their overall scores are better than average. Here are the top 10 best cities for allergies in the U.S. for 2018.
1. Denver, Colorado
2. Provo, Utah
3. Boise, Idaho
4. Portland, Oregon
5. Colorado Springs, Colorado
6. Ogden, Utah
7. Seattle, Washington
8. Salt Lake City, Utah
9. Raleigh, North Carolina
10. Spokane, Washington
Worst Cities for Spring Allergies in 2018 by Region
How does each region rank when it comes to the worst cities for spring allergies? The following is a list of the worst cities for spring allergies based on region, including South, Northeast, West, and Midwest. Letâs take a look below:
|South||2018Â NationalÂ Rank|
|1.Â McAllen,Â Texas||1|
|2.Â Louisville,Â Kentucky||2|
|3.Â Jackson,Â Mississippi||3|
|4.Â Memphis,Â Tennessee||4|
|5.Â SanÂ Antonio,Â Texas||5|
|Northeast||2018Â NationalÂ Rank|
|1.Â Providence,Â RhodeÂ Island||6|
|2.Â Syracuse,Â NewÂ York||8|
|3.Â Springfield,Â Massachusetts||11|
|4.Â Buffalo,Â NewÂ York||23|
|5.Â NewÂ Haven,Â Connecticut||24|
|West||2018Â NationalÂ Rank|
|1.Â LasÂ Vegas,Â Nevada||27|
|2.Â Tucson,Â Arizona||42|
|3.Â Fresno,Â California||53|
|4.Â Albuquerque,Â NewÂ Mexico||55|
|5.Â Riverside,Â California||61|
|Midwest||2018Â NationalÂ Rank|
|1.Â Dayton,Â Ohio||7|
|2.Â Toledo,Â Ohio||14|
|3.Â Youngstown,Â Ohio||18|
|4.Â Wichita,Â Kansas||22|
|5.Â Columbus,Â Ohio||28|
Risk Factors for Your Spring Allergies
Every region has different risk factors for allergies.
- Mountainous areas have fewer plants; this explains why certain states didnât make the list. Pollen from evergreens is also heavier, so it remains airborne for shorter amounts of time.
- Pollen thrives in humidity, so youâll 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 harmâs 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 itâs high. Keep the windows shut and use the air conditioning if itâs too hot.
Consider central air conditioning with an air filtration system.
- 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. Also, wear sunglasses and a hat when you are outdoors.
- Windy days are worse for allergy sufferers because pollen is whipping around. Take a shower with shampoo before bed to remove pollen from your skin and hair.
- Limit contact with outdoor pets. Your dog can also carry pollen on its fur, so avoid going out with it in the early morning on high-pollen days, especially if those days are also windy.
- Be sure to wipe pets off with a towel or damp washcloth before they reenter your home to limit exposure to dust and pollen.
- Remove your shoes before you enter your home.
- Do laundry, including your bedding, in hot and soapy water once weekly. Dry your clothes in an indoor dryer rather than outside on a clothesline.
- Stay hydrated by drinking up to 10 glasses of filtered water daily. Dehydration makes it more difficult to expel mucus.
- Take allergy medicines before going outside, not after. Natural allergy supplements include stinging nettle, spirulina, butterbur, quercetin, probiotics, bromelain, vitamin A, and zinc.
- Use a neti pot twice daily with a little salt and distilled or warm filtered water during allergy season, or after being exposed to allergens. This helps flush out mucus and relieve nasal congestion.
- Consume an anti-inflammatory diet during allergy season, including fresh organic vegetables; apple cider vinegar; wild-caught fish; grass-fed meats; bone broth; bromelain-rich pineapple; raw honey; and probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, or kimchi.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, conventional dairy, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, wheat, soy, and processed foods.
With any luck, you wonât find yourself in one of the worst cities for allergies this year and in the years to come, but thereâs no telling which city will make the list, so if youâre an allergy sufferer, itâs best to be armed with knowledge. Seasonal spring allergies are a pain, itâs true, but knowing pollen counts and the best times to go outside can help keep them at bay.
Unless you live in a bubble, youâll 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 affects your day-to-day living, then see an allergist to discuss long-term strategies.
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