Worst Cities for Spring Allergies

Knoxville Tops List of Worst Cities for Spring Allergy Sufferers

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 8, 2011 -- The charm of a Southern spring may be lost on millions of seasonal allergy sufferers. A new study shows Knoxville and a host of other Southern cities top the list of the worst places to live with spring allergies.

It's the second year in a row the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America has given the dubious honor of "the most challenging place to live with spring allergies" to the east Tennessee town. Rounding out the top five were four other Southern cities: Louisville, Ky.; Charlotte, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; and Chattanooga.

The rankings are based on an analysis of the following three factors for the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S.:

  • Pollen scores (airborne grass/tree/weed pollen and mold spores)
  • Number of allergy medications used per patient
  • Number of allergy specialists per patient

Researchers say Knoxville's top spot this year was primarily because of a higher-than-average use of allergy medications per patient and higher-than-average pollen counts. The city has ranked in the top 10 on the annual report for six out of the past nine years.

For the full listing of the 100 top allergy capitals, see www.allergycapitals.com.

Allergy Medication Use Down

The report shows seasonal allergies continue to be a challenge nationwide for 40 million Americans.

But the good news is that for the first time in nine years, the average number of allergy medications per person is less than 1.0. The national average is now 0.94 allergy medications per person.

Researchers say the report mostly measured prescription allergy medication purchases and refills, and this decline is likely a sign that people are relying more and more on the growing array of over-the-counter allergy medications.

How to Tame Spring Allergies

Moving may be out of the question for most seasonal allergy sufferers, but there are simple steps people can take to reduce their suffering.

Researchers say many people with nasal allergies stay inside when pollen counts are high in the spring and fall. But the air indoors can be up to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.

Indoor allergens (allergy-causing substances), such as dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and cockroaches can be triggers for people with seasonal allergies, too.

To improve the quality of indoor air, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends:

  • Control sources of indoor pollution: Remove or clean carpets, old mattresses, stuffed furniture, and stuffed toys. Put zippered allergen "encasements" on all pillows, mattresses, and box springs. If you keep a pet, bar it from the bed and bedroom. Ventilate adequately: keep windows and doors closed and set the air conditioner on recirculate and reduce humidity to less than 50%.
  • Clean indoor air: Use a HEPA filter in rooms to remove allergens from the air. Vacuum once or twice a week with a vacuum equipped to control allergens and wash bedding weekly, including uncovered pillows and stuffed animals.


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SOURCE: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Spring Allergy Capitals 2011."

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