Spring's beautiful blossoms bring on sneezes and sniffles. Where you live has a big impact on how you feel. Every year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) ranks the 100 largest U.S. metro areas by pollen count, allergy medicine use, and allergy doctors. Is your city one of the 10 worst "spring allergy capitals" for 2015?
No. 10: Richmond, VA
You might be breathing a little easier than last year if you live in Virginia’s capital. Richmond's ranking has improved two places since then. Still, the city’s high year-round pollen levels can make it tough to step away from the tissue box. Living here can also be a challenge if you or your kids have asthma. It's been ranked several times as the worst U.S. city for people with asthma.
No. 9: Providence, RI
You might be surprised to find this New England city on the list. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology doesn't even have a pollen counter stationed here. But climate change experts say the city’s daily average temps are on the rise. This helps plants thrive and make more pollen. Its current ranking is also due to a lower-than-average number of allergy doctors.
No. 8: Dayton, OH
The birthplace of aviation -- it was home to the Wright Brothers -- has shuffled in and out of the top 10 for years. Tree pollens spike here around April. Common allergy culprits are cypress, juniper, cedar, and beech trees. If you're allergic to tree pollen, you'll keep you sneezing through May in this city. A rise in the use of allergy medicines helped secure its ranking this year.
No. 7: Wichita, KS
The largest city in Kansas jumped 5 places to earn a top 10 ranking. Weeds and grasses are to blame for your itchy, watery eyes and sneezing if you live here. This year's spot is based on higher-than-average pollen counts and increased use of allergy meds for the city's estimated 382,000 people. The Midwest town's lower-than-average number of allergy doctors also played a role.
No. 6: McAllen, TX
Wind-swept pollen from mountain cedar trees hundreds of miles away kicks off sneeze season early in this city in the Rio Grande Valley. Later on, native plants like mesquite, huisache, and grasses join in. And there's not much rain to wash away the sniffle-causing particles. McAllen only gets about 26 inches a year.
No. 5: Knoxville, TN
Knoxville vaulted into the top 5 worst allergy cities this year after taking 16th place in 2014. That might be a surprise, since the area has a good number of allergy doctors. But the surrounding mountains help trap pollen in this valley city. And springs arrives early in the South. So pollen-making trees bloom sooner. Oak, birch, and maple box elder are common allergy culprits here.
No. 4: Memphis, TN
Allergies have many people in this town singin’ the blues. Trees that give off spring pollen thrive in the area's warm days and cool nights. Though it’s slipped a bit from last year’s second-place finish, Memphis often ranks as one of the worst places to live for people with asthma. Closing your windows and using the A/C can help help you breathe easier.
No. 3: Oklahoma City, OK
The Sooner State boosts plentiful sunshine -- and lots of trees that put out pollen. Blame your sneezes here on oak, mulberry, poplar, aspen, and sycamore trees, among others. Warm, dry, windy days make pollen counts surge. The tiny grains can drift for miles in the breeze. If you've been outdoors when the count is high, shed your clothes and shower when you get home.
No. 2: Louisville, KY
That beautiful carpet of Kentucky bluegrass is a potent allergy trigger. It makes more pollen than any other grass in the U.S. Most of it is released in the early morning. If you have grass allergies, your symptoms will spike here in late spring and early summer. Louisville was ranked the worst place for spring allergies in the U.S. last year.
No. 1: Jackson, MS
Jackson leads the nation as the worst place for spring allergies. It's back in first again after a stint at 5th last year. Forests rich in oak, ash, elm, and hickory trees cover more than half of this state. That greenery leaves behind thick coats of springtime pollen that keep you stocking up on tissues. The City With Soul's jump back to top place is due, in part, to higher use of allergy meds.
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American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Hay Fever Medications," "Outdoor Allergens: Tips to Remember."
American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology: "Global Warming Increases Misery for Nation's 50 Million Allergy Sufferers," "The Rise of Spring Allergies: Fact or Fiction?" “Keep Your Green Thumb, Avoid the Red Nose.”
ABC News: "Top 100 Spring Allergy Cities."
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Allergy Capitals," "Spring Allergy Capitals 2014," "More to Asthma Than Meets the Air," "Allergic Asthma," "Pollen and Mold Counts," “Indoor Air Quality and Allergies,” “Gardening With Allergies.”
Birmingham News: "Winter has come and gone (but who knew)?"
Dallas News: "Dallas ranked 23rd worst U.S. city for allergies — how to defend yourself against mountain cedar & its high pollen buddies."
Monitor: "Allergies a headache for many this time of year."
Shea Clinic: "Allergy Alert: Grab a Tissue."
James L. Sublett, MD, allergist, co-founder, Family Allergy & Asthma, Louisville, KY; president, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Texas MedClinic: "Symptoms and Remedies for Cedar Fever."
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.