Jackson, Miss., is the worst U.S. city for people with allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The foundation releases its list of "2013 Spring Allergy Capitals" today, based on pollen scores, the number of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications per patient and the number of board-certified allergists per patient.
The foundation ranked 100 of 320 cities in the continental USA for the 10th year. Its website includes an interactive map of the top 100 with pollen scores as well as resources for patients and doctors. The list of cities was funded this year by Dymista, a nasal spray for relief of allergy symptoms.
"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.
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Several southeastern cities sprang up in the list this season. The southeastern 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 adds.
William Berger, an adviser for the foundation, says it is important to see a board-certified allergist for diagnosis and treatment. He says it's a misperception that kids will outgrow allergies:
"Most people will have symptoms throughout life," adds Berger, an allergist in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Waldron says the list is 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."
Top 10 worst cities for allergy sufferers
1. Jackson, Miss.
2. Knoxville, Tenn.
3. Chattanooga, Tenn.
4. McAllen, Texas
7. Dayton, Ohio
9. Oklahoma City
10. Baton Rouge