2018 Spring Allergy Capitals Crowned

M.A., Health Writer
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Ahh, spring! Flowers bloom, birds sing, and your allergies kick into high gear. It's "their" favorite time of year, but for you, it's anything but fun. If you've ever wondered where the best and worst places to live with allergies are, wonder no more. The 2018 Spring Allergy Capitals report has arrived from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The organization analyzed:

  • The seasonal, spring pollen score
  • Amount of allergy medication use
  • The number of allergy specialists

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You're not alone

Allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Maybe you didn't know that, according to AAFA:

  • More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
  • Allergies account for $18 billion in costs yearly.
  • Americans also lose more than 6 million work and school days and make 16 million visits to their doctors.

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You've got options

If you have allergies, you know allergic sensitivity can be reduced, but there's no cure for allergies. They can be managed with prevention and treatment. AAFA says good allergy treatment is based on:

  • Medical history
  • Allergy test results
  • Symptom severity

Treatment options include:

  • Avoiding allergens
  • Medicine and/or
  • Immunotherapy, a.k.a., allergy shots

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What to do about allergies

Because allergies and asthma can be at the least annoying and even life-threatening, successful management is job one. That means:

  • Recognizing signs and symptoms
  • Provider diagnosis and treatment
  • Reducing or controlling exposure to environmental triggers
  • Ongoing patient and family and caregiver involvement
  • Monitoring and self-management

Your success depends a lot on following your doctor's instructions and keeping track of symptoms so you can discuss them at your next appointment.

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If you think they've gotten worse…

You may be right. The Union of Concerned Scientists says climate change increases allergens. Those worsen your allergies. Scientists cite these specific factors:

  1. Carbon dioxide, heat-trapping gas, warms the planet. It increases plants' growth rate and the amount of pollen and its potency.
  2. Rising temperatures cause a longer growing season, which then causes allergy season to last longer.
  3. The extended spring season also increases bloom and fungal spore counts, no friend to allergies.

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The more you know…

No matter where you live, you can be proactive about your allergies, and you bet: "There's an app for that!" Try these for starters:

Your allergies may kick into high gear when trees start releasing pollen, and then grasses do their thing. When you know pollen counts are going to be high, you really can try to reduce how much pollen you encounter.

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Take these pollen-avoidance steps

When pollen counts rise, AAFA suggests you:

  • Be outside less.
  • Close windows.
  • Turn on air conditioning and use air filtration.
  • When outside, wear sunglasses, a hat, and a mask if cutting grass or gardening.
  • Shower and shampoo nightly to wash pollen away.
  • Been outside? Change and wash clothes. Use a dryer, not a clothes line.
  • Leave shoes outside the door.
  • Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once weekly.
  • Get an AAFA-certified asthma and allergy friendly air cleaner, portable or whole house.

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Separate pollen and pets

Don't forget that you're not the only ones bringing pollen into your home, says AAFA. You know it's always safest to keep cats indoors, and if you share life with a dog, to always keep them safe with a collar or harness and leash when outside.

If Fido or Fluffy do go outside during allergy season, just use a soft, moist towel to wipe them off and ensure pollen gets left at the doorstep. Yes, pets can develop allergies, too, so if you're suspicious, talk to your veterinarian.

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And the top ten 2018 National Spring winners are…

Here are the cities — out of 100 total —and their total score on pollen, medicine utilization per patient and board-certified allergists per patient:

  1. McAllen, Texas  -  100.00
  2. Louisville, Kentucky -  86.84
  3. Jackson, Mississippi  -  84.83
  4. Memphis, Tennessee  -  80.30
  5. San Antonio, Texas  -  79.39
  6. Providence, Rhode Island - 76.88
  7. Dayton, Ohio  -  76.818.
  8. Syracuse, New York: - 74.96
  9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: - 74.36
  10. Knoxville, Tennessee: - 73.23

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And in the bottom ten we have…

These cities scored lowest, which is a good thing for allergy sufferers who live here:

  1. San Jose, California  -  39.52
  2. Spokane, Washington  - 39.00
  3. Raleigh, North Carolina  -  38.88
  4. Salt Lake City, Utah  -  36.57
  5. Seattle, Washington  -  36.00
  6. Ogden, Utah -  35.45
  7. Colorado Springs, Colorado -  33.44
  8. Portland, Oregon  - 33.12
  9. Boise, Idaho  -  31.91
  10. Provo, Utah  -  29.50
  11. Denver, Colorado  - 28.92

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Why southern cities grab top spots

Southern and southwestern destinations McAllen, Louisville, Jackson, Memphis and San Antonio took top-five honors. “Recent hurricanes and severe storms also affect the severity of spring allergies. The increased presence of mold in areas damaged by floods can trigger allergic reactions,” says Kenneth Mendez, AAFA president and CEO. “This could be why we see these cities dominating our Spring Allergy Capitals list." City and state leaders can work on solutions to these challenges, he suggests.