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What Makes a Place Allergy-Friendly? continued...

So if your allergies are making you miserable, wouldn’t it make sense to move to Anchorage, or at least to Buffalo? “You might be exposed to a lot less pollen, that’s true,” says James Sublett, M.D., FACAAI, a clinical professor and the section chief of pediatric allergy at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. Louisville is perennially named one of the worst places to live with seasonal allergies. “But unless you live in an extreme climate, there will be some pollen.”

And even if you do live, say, in Alaska, you might be just trading one type of pollen for another – like outdoor mold.

Geography. Mountainous areas are often considered less allergy-prone than valleys. Note Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs on the top 10 list. The Mountain West usually has much lower pollen counts than the Southeast and Midwest, because it doesn’t have the large expanses of wild grasses that can kick up pollen. But in spring 2010, people with allergies in Mountain West states like Idaho were complaining of one of the worst allergy seasons in years.

Living near the ocean is also considered a good allergy precaution, as the ocean breezes tend to blow allergens away. That’s probably why Portland, Seattle, and San Diego did so well on the list.

Weather. It’s six of one, half dozen of the other with this factor. Moist, humid air -- like the kind you find in the southeastern U.S. -- can be very pollen-friendly. So areas where the air is drier, like the Mountain West, may provoke fewer allergic reactions. On the other hand, dry air dries out your nasal passages.

City vs. Country. If you have seasonal allergies, you might think you’d be better off living in the city, away from all the crops, grasses, flowers, and other allergen magnets found in the countryside. But you might be surprised, says Sublett.

“In the city, you have a lot of allergy triggers like pollution, particularly diesel particulates,” says Sublett. “And you may inhale just as much pollen or ragweed from weeds and plants growing along the curbs and in vacant lots.”

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