News Column

Which Cities are Worst for Allergies?

April 2, 2013

Jackson, Miss., is the worst U.S. city for people with allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

The group's list of 2013 Spring Allergy Capitals, released today, is based on pollen scores, number of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications per patient and number of board-certified allergists per patient.

It ranked 100 of 320 cities in the continental USA for the 10th year.

"We do this ranking to make people aware of their environment and what they may face," says Angel Waldron, a consumer health advocate for the foundation, based in Landover, Md.

Outdoor allergies -- also called seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever -- occur when tree pollens and other outdoor allergens are inhaled into the nose and lungs.

Several cities in the Southeast are on the list this season. The Southeast's coastal region has a number of pollinating trees, such as red cedar, hackberry, elm, willow, poplar, bald cypress, bayberry, wax myrtle, ash, birch, hickory, pecan, paper mulberry, sycamore, mulberry, oak and walnut, Waldron says.

"With climate change, they are exposed to higher temperatures for longer periods," she says.

Allergist William Berger, an adviser for the foundation, says it's a misperception that children will outgrow allergies.

"Most people will have symptoms throughout life," he says.

Waldron says the city rankings are not intended to encourage people to move away from the "worst" cities: "We encourage people to use this list as a talking guide with a board-certified allergist."

The full rankings list, which is published at, was financed this year by Dymista, a nasal spray for relief of allergy symptoms.

Top 10 worst cities for allergies

1. Jackson, Miss.

2. Knoxville, Tenn.

3. Chattanooga,


4. McAllen, Texas

5. Louisville

6. Wichita

7. Dayton, Ohio

8. Memphis

9. Oklahoma City

10. Baton Rouge

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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