There’s no place in America that’s totally safe from allergies. For eight years, the Asthmaand Allergy Foundation of America has released a list of the top Allergy Capitals in the United States. The list is based on each city’s pollen scores (airborne grass/tree/weed pollen and mold spores), as well as the number of allergy medications and allergy specialists used per patient.
Conditions in a single city can change from year to year, says Andy Nish, MD, a Gainesville, Ga., allergist. One year, the pollen counts may be continually high and another year low. Mold counts can change depending on the weather.
Most of the worst places for allergies are warm and humid places. “Don’t pack up and move, because there are just different possible allergies somewhere else,” Angel Waldron, a communications rep with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation said. “The best thing you can do is find out exactly what you’re allergic to and then develop a good management plan.”
2011 Worst cities for allergies with scores:
- Knoxville, TN (100)
- Louisville, KY (94.25)
- Charlotte, NC (92.24)
- Jackson, MI (91.64)
- Chattanooga, TN (89.28)
- Birmingham, AL (87.17)
- Dayton, OH (89.14)
- Richmond, VA (88.93)
- McAllen, TX (88.78)
- Madison, WI (87.50)
While no place is allergen-free, there are places with low scores.
Best cities for allergies:
- Boston, MA
- Stockton, CA
- Ogden, UT
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Sacramento, CA
- Greenville, SC
- San Diego, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Albany, NY
- Portland, OR
Here’s a little closer look at some factors that can affect whether your allergy symptoms are better or worse, wherever you live.
Allergy Factor #1 – City Size
Larger urban areas may be worse for your allergies than less populated cities, says Jeff Demain, MD, a board-certified allergist and immunologist in Anchorage, Alaska and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.
”Larger urban areas are known to have higher pollution levels,” he says. And experts have long suspected a link between air pollution and allergies. The common pollutants — ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide — probably act more as irritants than anything, aggravating your existing allergies, and worsening your symptoms.
Allergy Factor #2 – Climate
Outdoor allergies affected by climate changes include pollen and mold allergies, as well as allergic asthma. Cold temperatures help decrease pollen in the air. However, cold temperatures are an asthma trigger and worsen rashes related to allergies such as hives and eczema. Pollen and mold spores thrive in warm weather climates.
Winds stir up mold and pollen spores, spreading them throughout the air. Rain increases outdoor mold production, although, heavy rain helps prevent the spread of pollen.
Allergy Factor #3 – Pollen Count
Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are powerful triggers for allergies. So areas of high pollen will naturally be more problematic. But, pollen counts vary a lot, says Demain. ”Dry sunny days following a rain will have the highest levels,” he says. Pollen counts can vary year-to-year.
Allergy Factor #4 – Geography
Living in a city by the water may be good for your allergies, Demain says, as the wind is likely to blow away potential allergens and irritants. Although, pollen can travel in the air a long time — up to 20 minutes or 200 miles, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
Allergy Factor #5 – Access to Medical Care
”If you move where there are not too many allergists” that too can affect care, says Derek Johnson, MD, an allergist in Fairfax, Va. If it’s difficult to get allergy care, chances are your management won’t be ideal.
The top recommendation for managing allergies wherever you live is to know your triggers. This is the first step in managing rather than suffering from allergies. For an easy-to-use, laboratory test you can do at home, visit www.immunetech.com and order your test today. For a 15% discount, use code ILG at checkout.