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Allergy Capitals

It’s the season for sneezing and itching! If you live in one of the top 2022 Allergy Capitals™, use AAFA’s tips to reduce your contact with pollen and improve your quality of life.  

More than 50 million Americans live with various types of allergies every year. Many of them have seasonal pollen allergies. AAFA’s yearly Allergy CapitalsTMreport explores how challenging it is to live with spring or fall allergies in the top 100 U.S. cities*.

The report looks at these important factors:

  • Spring pollen scores
  • Fall pollen scores
  • Over-the-counter medicine use
  • Availability of board-certified allergists/immunologists

This year’s report named Scranton, Pennsylvania, as the top 2022 Allergy Capital™ due to its:

  • Higher-than-average spring pollen
  • Higher-than-average fall pollen
  • Fewer board-certified allergists/immunologists

*Data was studied from the 100 most-populated U.S. metropolitan areas.

The top 10 most challenging places to live with seasonal allergies are:

2022 Allergy Capitals

The 2022 Allergy Capitals™ report identifies the most challenging cities for spring and fall allergies in the top 100 metropolitan areas in the continental United States.

10. Albany, New York

Similar to Buffalo (#8) and New Haven (#9), Albany has average scores for allergy medicine use and availability of allergy specialists but has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen.

9. New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven has average scores for allergy medicine use and availability of allergy specialists but has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen.

8. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo falls within the “average” range for allergy medicine use and availability of allergy specialists but has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen. Buffalo falls within the top 10 of all 100 cities analyzed for spring and fall pollen combined.

7. Hartford, Connecticut

Despite falling within the “average” range for allergy medicine use, Hartford has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen and availability of allergy specialists. It ties with New Haven (#9) for the fifth-highest pollen score (spring and fall combined) of all 100 cities we analyzed.

6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Despite falling within the “average” range for availability of allergy specialists, Oklahoma City has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen. It also falls within the top 10 highest cities for allergy medicine use.

5. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio ranks “average” for both allergy medicine use and availability of allergy specialists but has worse-than-average spring and fall pollen scores.

4. Richmond, Virginia

Despite ranking “better than average” for availability of allergy specialists and “average” for allergy medicine use, Richmond has worse-than-average spring and fall pollen scores.

3. McAllen, Texas

Similar to Scranton (#1), McAllen ranks “better than average” for allergy medicine use but has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen and availability of allergy specialists. It is also tied with San Antonio (#5) for the highest overall pollen score.

2. Wichita, Kansas

Of all the cities in the top 10, Wichita is the only city with worse-than-average scores for all factors analyzed: spring and fall pollen, allergy medicine use, and availability of allergy specialists.

1. Scranton, Pennsylvania

Scranton is #1 for 2022. It has worse-than-average scores for spring and fall pollen and availability of allergy specialists. It also has the second-highest overall pollen score for both spring and fall combined of all 100 cities we analyzed.

2022 Allergy Capitals: Full Report

Get Seasonal Allergy Relief No Matter Where You Live

In the spring, the warm weather brings people outdoors to face one of the season’s biggest problems: tree pollen. Grass pollen follows later in spring into summer. Then in the late summer and early fall, weed pollen – especially ragweed pollen – can trigger symptoms just as kids are returning to school.

Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis caused by seasonal allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Runny nose (usually a thin, clear discharge)
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears, or mouth
  • Swelling around the eyes

Take these actions to reduce your contact with pollen:

  • Check pollen counts or forecasts daily and plan outdoor activities on days when pollen counts are expected to be lower.
  • Keep windows closed during pollen season or peak pollen times.
  • Use central air conditioning or air cleaners with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter and/or HEPA filtration to reduce indoor airborne allergens (including pollen that may enter your home through doors, windows, on your clothes, and on pets).
  • Wear sunglasses, a mask, and a hat or other hair covering when outdoors.
  • Take a shower and wash your hair before going to bed (if your hair was uncovered outside).Certified Asthma and Allergy Friendly Badge
  • Change and wash clothes after outdoor activities.
  • Dry laundry in a clothes dryer or on an indoor rack, not on an outdoor line.
  • Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors. Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home.
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home.
  • Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.

When cleaning inside your home, be aware that you may stir up pollen that has collected on surfaces. CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® vacuums and dusting cloths help trap and contain allergens such as pollen.

 

There are also over-the-counter and prescription allergy treatments available to prevent or treat allergy symptoms:

  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays (the most effective medicine for allergic rhinitis)
  • Allergy medicines – such as non-drowsy, long-acting antihistamines
  • Decongestants (for short-term use – check with your doctor before using if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, thyroid disease, or trouble urinating)
  • Leukotriene modifiers (such as SINGULAIR®)
  • Immunotherapy – allergy shots or tablets for long-term treatment to reduce how severe your allergic reactions are

Talk with your doctor before your pollen allergy seasons begin to discuss which treatment is right for you.

Climate Change and Allergies

The impact of climate change has become a dangerous cycle. Rising global temperatures lead to more extreme weather. Weather changes – such as heat waves and droughts – can lead to a lack of air flow. When the air doesn’t move, pollutants react together in the heat and sun. This increases ground-level ozone.1

Ground-level ozone is a major part of urban smog. More air pollution and smog cause higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO­­2). This results in warmer temperatures. And the cycle continues.

This cycle results in increased pollen. This can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. Rising CO2 levels lead to longer growing seasons that change flowering time and increase pollen. The length of the growing season refers to the number of days when plant growth takes place. Warmer, longer seasons increase exposure to allergens that trigger asthma and other respiratory and allergic responses.2

Climate change is also impacting the health of people who live in urban centers. Warmer temperatures and extreme heat waves are made worse in urban areas due to an effect called an “urban heat island” (UHI). A UHI has higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas due to more buildings, roads, population, and lack of green space. Extreme heat made worse by UHIs can increase air pollution and allergic sensitivity.3 Climate change will make these UHIs worse. Black and Hispanic Americans − who already have higher rates of asthma and allergies − will be affected the most by worsening UHIs due to a long history of discrimination in U.S. housing policies.

If we don’t slow down the cycle, pollen production and air pollution will only get worse. Millions of people already have seasonal allergic rhinitis, and pollen allergies are a major cause. If this cycle continues, we may see the number of people with seasonal allergies increase.

Our Allergy Capitals™ report is an independent research project of AAFA.

Recommended Citation

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, (2022). [2022 Allergy Capitals: The Most Challenging Places to Live With Allergies]. Retrieved from allergycapitals.com.

Media Inquiries

For media and related inquiries, contact gro.afaa@aidem.

References

1. Climate Central. (2019, July 30). Climate change is threatening air quality across the country. https://www.climatecentral.org/news/climate-change-is-threatening-air-quality-across-the-country-2019

2. Schmidt, C. W. (2016). Pollen overload: Seasonal allergies in a changing climate. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(4). https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.124-a70

3. D’Amato, G., Liccardi, G., D’Amato, M., & Cazzola, M. (2002). Outdoor air pollution, climatic changes and allergic bronchial asthma. European Respiratory Journal, 20(3), 763–776. https://doi.org/10.1183/09031936.02.00401402

Asthma Disparities Report