Oct. 5, 2012 -- Some natives of Louisville, Ky., needn't be surprised if they're sneezing while reading this article. Their city tops the list this year as the worst place to live in the U.S. for fall allergies.
To earn the No. 1 spot, Louisville received a "worse than average" rating for its pollen counts and allergy medication use by each patient. But it got a "better than average" rating for the number of allergy specialists available in the area.
Last year, Louisville placed sixth in this annual ranking of 100 metropolitan areas done by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). In all, six Southern cities made the country's top 10. Sacramento, Calif., was named the best place for people with autumn allergies to live.
The rankings are based on an analysis of three key factors: pollen and mold scores during fall 2011, the number of allergy medications used by people with allergies last fall, and the number of board-certified allergists per 10,000 patients.
This year's 10 worst places for fall allergies are:
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Baton Rouge, La.
This year's five best places for fall allergies are:
Daytona Beach, Fla.
San Francisco, Calif.
To see a complete listing of all 100 areas, visit the AAFA's Allergy Capitals web site.
Ragweed pollen is the main trigger of fall allergies. This summer's heat and drought (a lack of rain keeps pollen floating in the air longer) likely means a rough fall for the nation's 40 million seasonal allergy sufferers.
Besides ragweed pollen, mold spores from piles of damp leaves can also thrive in the fall. Both of these culprits can make noses run or stuff up, as well as lead to the sniffles, sneezing, and watery eyes. For people with asthma, it can also lead to more wheezing and trouble breathing.
An allergy specialist can determine which pollen or molds are causing your symptoms, and prescribe treatment to help relieve them. Besides medication or allergy shots, you can also follow these tips to feel better this fall, whether outside or indoors:
Keep doors and windows closed at night to reduce the amount of outdoor allergens that get inside your home. Set the air conditioner on re-circulate.
Reduce mold by decreasing moisture around the house, especially in damp bathrooms, kitchens, and other wet areas. It's a chore, but do your best to rake up piles of damp leaves.
Vacuum once or twice a week to minimize the amount of indoor allergens.
Keep surfaces clear of dust, especially in the bedroom, where you spend lots of time.