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Allergy Risks by Region of the U.S. continued...

Weed season kicks in around late summer and continues until a hard freeze, Leftwich says. The biggest culprit: ragweed.

The Northeast

In the Northeast -- states such as Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, and others -- tree pollens begin in February or March, continuing through June or so, says Clifford Bassett, MD, an allergist in New York City.  Among the offenders: elm, hazelnut, maple, poplar, hackberry, and red cedar.

In May and June, grass pollens kick up. While some people are only allergic to Bermuda grass, most with allergies are allergic to all grasses.

Weed season begins in August and continues through the fall. Pollens from such weeds as English plantain, lamb's-quarter, and cocklebur provoke symptoms, Bassett says.

Putting the Worst Allergy Cities List Into Perspective

Waggoner and other allergists caution that the list of worst cities for springtime allergies may not be that scientific. "The worst city for one person is the best city for another person," Leftwich agrees. "It depends on what you are allergic to."

"Being allergic to one tree pollen doesn't mean you are allergic to another." The city that has the worst tree pollen count may not have the worst grass pollen count, he says. “It is a common misconception that pollens are pollens. They are not."

No scientific studies have thoroughly compared allergy risks in different cities, Leftwich says. Instead, we turn to the annual list almost for bragging rights.

So how can we use the annual list of worst allergy cities? Well, don't use the list to pick one place to live over another, allergy experts say. Instead, get allergy testing to be sure you know what triggers your allergies. And if you must move, find out whether your pollen triggers grow widely in the area and neighborhood you're considering.

What if you love your home, but you're in a bad allergy community?  Talk to your doctor. There are preventive treatments you can start before allergy season to help you stay home and healthy.

Complete List of 2010 Spring Allergy Capitals

1. Knoxville, Tenn.

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Outdoor Exercise and Allergies

Don't let seasonal allergies stop your exercise routine. Get tips for outdoor fitness all year long.

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