Do You Live in One of the Worst Cities for Fall Allergies?
Check out the highest-ranked cities for sneezing this season. Is yours on the list?
By Jaimie Dalessio Clayton
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THURSDAY, Sept. 27, 2012— It's here. Fall allergy season.
About 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. Leaves rotting, pollens blooming, plants sporing. Many sufferers can't wait for a blanket of snow.
And for some, it feels like allergy "season" never ended this year. In her own practice, Neeta Ogden, MD, an adult and pediatric allergist in New York City and Englewood, N.J., has seen patients with more severe seasonal allergies than ever before.
"What's been interesting about this past year was the continuity of symptoms," she says. "There didn't seem to be a real let up." Warm winter led to early and intense spring allergies, she says, which persisted into summer and now fall.
"Even as an allergist I found it difficult," says Dr. Ogden. "You feel your patients will get some kind of relief, but there was a chronic-ness to their symptoms which was a real frustration point for all of us."
Among autumn's allergy arsenal is ragweed pollen, the primary allergy trigger for the fall season. Ragweed plants, which belong to the sunflower family, tend to bloom from mid-August to October. But dry weather and drought during summer extended its season. Since 1995, climate change has extended ragweed season by almost a full month, according to a study in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Mold and grass also trigger allergy symptoms during the fall. Mold actually poses a year-round problem for allergy sufferers, because it grows both outdoors and indoors. In August, the allergist who for the past 15 years has recorded the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official allergy count for the Midwest, saw the highest mold count of his tenure.
The Worst Cities for Fall Allergies
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) today released its annual list of the biggest allergy offenders, based on a review of pollen counts, allergy medication usage, and the number of allergists per patient in each area.
Here are the AAFA's Top 25 toughest places to live with allergies this fall. You may recognize some of them from the list of the worst places for spring allergies.
- Louisville, Ky.
- Wichita, Kan.
- Knoxville, Tenn.
- Jackson, Miss.
- McAllen, Texas
- Dayton, Ohio
- Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Memphis, Tenn.
- Madison, Wis.
- Baton Rouge, La.
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- New Orleans, La.
- Rochester, N.Y.
- San Antonio, Texas
- Little Rock, Ark.
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Tulsa, Okla.
- Youngstown, Ohio
- Syracuse, N.Y.
- Omaha, Neb.
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Toledo, Ohio
- Providence, R.I.
Dealing With Fall Allergy Symptoms
All of these cities fall into the "worse than average" category, so even if you've been through past fall allergy seasons in your city or don't live in one on the Top 25, try these tips from the AAFA.
- Close windows and doors to keep pollen outside.
- Keep dust mites where you sleep to a minimum by washing sheets often.
- Reduce mold presence by decreasing moisture around the house with a dehumidifier. (Keep humidity below 50 percent.)
- Clear damp firewood and leaves from the yard.
- Wash your hair. Pollens accumulate on your hair and skin.
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