20 worst US cities to take a vacation in if you have allergies
If you were planning a spring break in Miami or Orlando but have allergies, you may want to rethink the trip.
The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America has revealed the country’s worst 20 cities for pollen counts — with seven in Florida alone.
Experts warn a milder winter this year could make the allergy season particularly brutal.
The above map shows the 20 worst places to live in or take a vacation if you have a pollen allergy in the United States. Some 17 out of 20 are in the South, with Florida having the most at seven out of 20 hotspots. Experts warned the state’s year-round mild weather was to blame
The above graph compares grass pollen counts in Wichita, Kansas, which was named the worst place to have a pollen allergy in the US. At the other end of the scale was Seattle, Washington, in the five best places for pollen allergy sufferers. America’s 100 most populous cities were ranked based on pollen counts, over-the-counter allergy medicine prescriptions and the number of allergy specialists in each state
Kenneth Mendez, the president of the AAFA which released the rankings in its annual report, warned: ‘We are experiencing longer and more intense allergy seasons because of climate change.
‘If we don’t take immediate action on the climate crisis, pollen production will only intensify.
‘This means more allergy and asthma attacks and additional strain on our health systems.’
The AAFA analyzed data from America’s 100 most populous cities for its report.
Each was ranked based on five factors: Levels of tree, grass and weed pollen, over-the-counter allergy medications and the number of allergy specialists in the area over the previous year.
They were allocated a score from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating a worse season.
At the top of the list was Wichita, Kansas, one of only two Midwestern cities to make the twenty allergy hotspots.
Rounding out the top five were Dallas in Texas, Scranton in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, also in Oklahoma.
The AAFA told DailyMail.com they had ranked Wichita at the top of the list because it had very high tree and grass pollen scores and higher than average use of allergy medications.
There are also a limited number of allergy specialists in the state, it added.
Seven out of the top 20 worst allergy hotspots are in Florida, with Sarasota, Cape Coral and Orlando topping the list.
Researchers said this was because of the state’s year-round warm climate, leading to plants releasing pollen constantly.
The state has previously been described as having one of the ‘most powerful and prolonged’ allergy seasons in the US.
At the other end of the scale, however, the AAFA rankings also revealed which cities were best for a vacation for those suffering from allergies.
Buffalo in New York, which is just 20miles from the famous Niagra Falls, was marked out as the best place for those with a pollen allergy to visit.
It was followed by Seattle in Washington, Cleveland in Ohio, Austin in Texas and Akron also in Ohio.
In the top 20 the mid-west made up the most states having seven of the best places for allergy sufferers. These were in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Researchers suggested that colder winters kept pollen season shorter in the region. Wet weather could also help because this would help remove pollen granules from the air.
Austin does face an allergy season sparked by the infamous mountain cedar tree, which releases pollen from December to February, but it has a lower rate of allergy sufferers compared to the national average.
The AAFA’s report excluded Alaska and Hawaii because they have few areas available to count pollen levels.
The above map shows the leaf index across America up to March 7, 2023. The red color indicates a blooming earlier than normal while blue indicates later than normal. Data shows that across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States this is earlier than normal
Estimates suggest as many as 67million Americans have a pollen allergy, including 14million children.
Some 25million also have asthma, which can be triggered or worsened by the release of pollen into the air.
But these numbers are projected to continue to rise in the coming years. It is not clear what is driving up the levels, but some have suggested more people living in a sanitized environment may be behind it.
An allergy to pollen is when the immune system over-reacts to the substance and launches an attack believing it is a threat.
This can leave people suffering from shortness of breath, runny noses and puffy eyes.
But in serious cases — including in people with asthma — it can trigger a tightening of the muscles lining the airways and the production of mucus making it harder to breathe.
Most people are only allergic to a specific type of pollen, meaning their allergy is only triggered at a certain time of year.
Trees are the first to release pollen from February to early summer, followed by grasses from April to early June and weeds from late summer into the fall.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a common but incurable condition that affects the small tubes inside the lungs.
It can cause them to become inflamed or swollen, which restricts the airways and makes it harder to breathe.
The condition affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood. Symptoms may improve or even go away as children grow older, but can return in adulthood.
Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and coughing, and these may get worse during an asthma attack.
Treatment usually involves medication that is inhaled to calm down the lungs.
Triggers for the condition include allergies, dust, air pollution, exercise and infections such as cold or flu.
If you think you or your child has asthma you should visit a doctor, because it can develop into more serious complications like fatigue or lung infections.