Although the allergy season has gotten off to a late start, this fall could be a “perfect storm for allergy sufferers,” according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. And residents in 10 cities across America will be feeling it more than others.
AAFA has published their annual ranking of fall “allergy capitals” – the most-challenging places in the United States to live in for people with allergies.
The rankings are based on average pollen levels, resident reliance on over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications, and the number of board certified allergists in each city. Topping the list this year is Wichita, Kansas, which ranked second last year.
The remainder of the top 10 for 2013 are:
2. Jackson, Mississippi
3. Knoxville, Tennessee
4. Louisville, Kentucky
5. Memphis, Tennessee
6. McAllen, Texas
7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
8. Dayton, Ohio
9. Chattanooga, Tennessee
10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The full list includes 100 cities across the country. Charleston, South Carolina, made the biggest jump on the list from No. 42 to No. 26.
Ragweed is the biggest culprit in causing fall allergies, according to AAFA; there are 17 different species found in the United States, and it’s found most often in rural areas in the Northeast and Midwest.
“Scientists estimate that a single ragweed plant can release one billion grains of pollen over the course of ragweed season,” an AAFA fact sheet states. “Ragweed pollen grains are light and are easily dispersed by the gentlest of breezes.”
Weather plays a big role in the severity of allergy season. Higher-than-average temperatures in the fall can produce more pollen, which is distributed over wider areas by strong winds. Mold caused by flooding or storms is also attributing to outdoor allergens, the AAFA says.
“Extreme weather conditions are resulting in greater exposure to allergens, triggering seasonal allergy symptoms to peak earlier and last longer for many people.”