10 Worst Cities for Allergy Sufferers

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According to the Asthma and Allergies Foundation of America (AAFA) there are approximately 60 million people suffering from asthma and allergies in the United States alone. This statistic marks allergies and asthma as one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the country. Each year the AAFA releases a report of the 100 allergy capitals in the United States. This list is based on three criteria: pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient, and number of allergy specialists per patient. Looking at the results from these lists over the years, we've compiled a list of the 10 all-time worst cities to live in for allergy sufferers. Moving to a new city for college means dealing with new allergens. While we're not trying to keep you from going to school in these cities, we are recommending that you bring you antihistamines and facial tissues if you do.

  1. Dayton, Ohio: Placing in the top ten worst cities for both spring and fall allergies, Dayton tops the list as the all time worst U.S. city to live in for allergy sufferers. Dayton holds the number one spot for the worst spring allergies in 2010 and the number six spot for the worst fall allergies in 2009. Jumping from the number 64 seed in 2007, Dayton has fallen below average in all three categories — pollen score, medicine use per patients and board-certified allergists per 10,000 patients — considered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Boasting a vibrant history of arts and culture as well as several outdoor activities, Dayton has plenty to offer. Just remember to bring your allergy meds.
  2. McAllen, Texas: As the number one worst city to live in for fall allergies in 2009 and the number six worst place to live for spring allergies in 2010, McAllen takes the silver medal for worst cities to live in for allergy sufferers. McAllen is located mere miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, resting on the Rio Grande River. The town's hot and humid climate is a brewing pot for allergens. Because the climate stays so warm in the colder months, plants flourish and allergies worsen. As the warmer part of the year comes around McAllen's climate dries some which offers only mild relief for allergy sufferers.
  3. Wichita, Kansas: Ranked as the second worst city for fall allergies in 2009 and second worst for spring allergies in 2010, Wichita has improved to the tenth seed for spring allergies in 2011. But don't be fooled. Wichita dwellers still suffer from itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and sneezing more than the average urban resident. Now, however, the town has a higher than average number of board-certified allergists per 10,000 patients. This is a step in the right direction. As the largest city in the state of Kansas, Wichita has many things to offer. Whether you are visiting to watch college basketball, see one of the numerous museums, or attend the famous Tallgrass Film Festival, just remember to take you allergy medications with you on your trip.
  4. Louisville, Kentucky: Most well known for the Kentucky Derby, Louisville draws horse racing enthusiasts from all over the country and world. While there are many amazing events and sites to see in Louisville, those who suffer from seasonal allergies should beware. Louisville ranked in as the third worst city to live in for spring and fall allergies in 2010 as designated by the AAFA. The city has average pollen scores, but worse than average allergy medicine use and fewer than average board certified allergists, keeping it near the top of our list.
  5. Jackson, Mississippi: Coming in at number five on the AAFA's list for worst cities for both fall and spring allergies, Jackson comes in at number five on our list as well. A city with a lot of history, Jackson is also a city with a lot allergy medication use. For the AAFA's three criteria, Jackson ranks better than average for allergy specialists, average for its pollen score, and worse than average for allergy medicine use. Coming in at number 13 the year before, Jackson Mississippi is moving in the wrong direction for allergy sufferers living there or hoping to visit.
  6. Knoxville, Tennessee: Like many of the other cities making this list, Knoxville falls in the humid subtropical climate zone, meaning this climate supports plant growth nearly year round. Ranking in as the fourth worst city to live in for spring allergies and the ninth worst city to live in for fall allergies, Knoxville makes our list at number six. With a higher than average pollen score and more allergy medication use than average, Knoxville can be a nightmare for severe allergy sufferers. As a city with a lot of rich history and several interesting festivals throughout the year, we don't recommend completely skipping your trip, just prepare for itchy eyes and sneezing.
  7. Greensboro, North Carolina: Greensboro comes in again at number seven on the AAFA's spring allergy capitol list this year. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America listed Greensboro, North Carolina as having worse than average allergy medication use and a worse than average number of allergists available. While the pollen score came in around average for the Southern city, allergy sufferers should still be wary. With beautiful green scenery that is pleasant to look at, these trees, grasses and weeds are also the bearers of disastrous allergens.
  8. Madison, Wisconsin: Ranking fourth in the AAFA's list of spring allergy capitals and eleventh for fall allergies, Madison makes our list for its big jump up the list from the previous year. The city wasn't even on the AAFA's list of allergy capitals the year before. Why the jump? With a harsh pollen season and worse than average allergy medication use per patient, Madison couldn't keep off the list this time. Madison often makes other lists as well. With its low unemployment rate, Madison is consistently identified as one of the best places to live in the United States by Money magazine. Just remember, if you are planning to live in Madison make sure to bring your allergy medications and tissues.
  9. Chattanooga, Tennessee: Chattanooga makes our list for shooting up from the number seventeen spot last year to the number three spot this year for spring allergy capitals. While the pollen score and the number of allergy specialists are both about average, the use of allergy medications is worse than average in this Southern city. Bordering the Appalachian mountain range, Chattanooga offers many beautiful sites and fun activities. Just be wary of the potential for itchy eyes and sneezing.
  10. St. Louis, Missouri: As the fifteenth largest city in the United States and the home to the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis has a lot of things to offer. The city has been called "North America's Best Sports City" by some and has the amazing Gateway Arch that symbolizes westward expansion and the state of Missouri itself. While there are numerous reasons to visit St. Louis, one should remember to take their allergy medications with them on their trip. St. Louis ranked in as the ninth worst city to live in for both spring and fall allergies, up from the sixteenth seed. The AAFA gives St. Louis a worse than average pollen score — which means that the volume of pollen and mold particles is 300 grains per cubic meter of air or higher. At half that level people with regular allergies will experience annoying symptoms.
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