Worst & Best Cities for Allergies
nicoletaionescu/istockphoto

The Best and Worst Cities for Spring Allergy Sufferers

View Slideshow
Worst & Best Cities for Allergies
nicoletaionescu/istockphoto

WAITING TO INHALE

American allergy sufferers, take note: McAllen, Texas, might be the worst place to be this spring. Higher-than-average pollen counts and allergy medicine use, along with a dearth of board-certified allergists, put the city at the top of this year's annual ranking of "Spring Allergy Capitals" from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Each year the AAFA report ranks the 100 largest metro areas in the continental United States. Here are the cities to flee if you're prone to spring allergy attacks, followed by the ones where you can breathe easy.

Jackson, Mississippi
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

2. JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI

Ranking right behind McAllen, Texas, the Southern city of Jackson actually scores average for pollen and better than average for its ratio of board-certified allergists to patients. However, when allergy medication use is also factored in, the state capital of Mississippi comes in with an overall score of 84.74 (with McAllen at 100). 

Providence, Rhode Island
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

3. PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

Providence appears to be a no-go across the board for allergy sufferers, with worse-than-average scores for pollen, allergy medication use, and number of board-certified allergists per patient. "Spring pollen has increasingly intensified with longer, warmer growing seasons that produce stronger pollen at higher quantities," said Kenneth Mendez, AAFA president and CEO, in the report.

Memphis, Tennessee
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

4. MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

While Memphis may be a great destination for music lovers, it's not the best choice for allergy sufferers. The city's overall score of 78.92 is due to worse-than-average scores for pollen and medication use. The ratio of allergists per patient, however, is average.

Springfield, Massachusetts
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

5. SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS

This western Massachusetts city is in a dead heat with Memphis when it comes to spring allergies. Springfield's overall score is 78.76, and it, too, has worse-than-average pollen counts and allergy medication use, along with an average ratio of board-certified allergists per patient.

Louisville, Kentucky
Davel5957/istockphoto

6. LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

Louisville is not far behind, with a score of 78.67 and above-average pollen counts and allergy medication use. It rates average for its ratio of allergists to patients. According to the AAFA report, more than 50 million Americans with seasonal nasal allergies are facing runny and congested noses, inflamed sinuses, relentless sneezing, and other symptoms.

New Orleans
Art Wager/istockphoto

7. NEW ORLEANS

The Big Easy is not so easy on allergy sufferers. While it has average pollen counts and an average number of board-certified allergists per patient, the city also has above-average use of allergy medication.

Scranton, Pennsylvania
traveler1116/istockphoto

8. SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA

Famously the setting for the popular TV comedy "The Office," Scranton is no laughing matter for the allergy prone. It has an overall score of 73.04, which includes worse-than-average pollen counts and fewer board-certified allergists per patient than average, along with average allergy medication use. Its No. 8 ranking is way up from No. 47 last year. 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
felixmizioznikov/istockphoto

9. BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA

Another city ranked among the 10 worst in the country, Baton Rouge actually has an average pollen score and an average number of board-certified allergists per patient. However, its level of allergy medication use is higher than average. More Americans than ever say they manage allergies, according to the Allergy Capitals report. "It is among the country's most common, but overlooked, diseases."

Richmond, Virginia
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

10. RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

A city with a worse-than-average pollen score, Richmond doesn't fare so badly when it comes to allergy medication use or the number of board-certified allergists per patient, both of which are average. However, when the scores were tallied, this Southern city still came away with 72.45, putting it among the worst in the country this year.

Toledo, Ohio
Ron_Thomas/istockphoto

11. TOLEDO, OHIO

Coming in at 11 in the ranking, with a score of 71.82, Toledo has an average pollen score and number of board-certified allergists per capita. But in this city on the western tip of Lake Erie, use of allergy medications is more common than average. 

Syracuse, New York
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

12. SYRACUSE, NEW YORK

Only a hair behind Toledo, Syracuse has a score of 71.82 this year. The city in upstate New York has a worse-than-average pollen score and a higher-than-average rate of allergy medication use. The number of board-certified allergists per patient is average here.

Dayton, Ohio
Ron_Thomas/istockphoto

13. DAYTON, OHIO

Another city with worse-than-average pollen and higher-than-average use of allergy medication, Dayton earned a score of 70.70. Want to protect yourself from pollen? The report suggests downloading one of the many apps that let you watch your area's pollen counts and take action to reduce exposure on days when the counts are high for the trees or grass that affect you.

San Antonio
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

14. SAN ANTONIO

San Antonio's score of 70.32 includes a worse-than-average pollen index. But the city has an average number of board-certified allergists as well as average use of allergy medications. For those seeking to avoid pollen exposure, options suggested in the report include wearing a hat and glasses outside, limiting outdoor activities, keeping windows closed, and using central air conditioning with HEPA air filtration.

Little Rock, Arkansas
ChrisBoswell/istockphoto

15. LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

The rate of allergy medication use in Little Rock is the most notable finding for the Arkansas state capital, which scores worse than average. The city's pollen score, however, is average, and its number of board-certified allergists per patient is better than average. Overall, its score is 70.27.

Buffalo, New York
traveler1116/istockphoto

16. BUFFALO, NEW YORK

This city in upstate New York, known for its industrial past, has a worse-than-average pollen score and higher than average sales of allergy medications. Its final score, 69.55, also reflects an average ratio of board-certified allergists per patient.

El Paso, Texas
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

17. EL PASO, TEXAS

El Paso, which scores 68.83, has a worse-than-average pollen score, higher-than-average use of allergy medications, and an average number of board-certified allergists per patient. In the spring, seasonal allergies are caused mostly by tree pollen, according to the report. Among the most common culprits are alder, aspen, beech, birch, cottonwood, mulberry, oak, and willow trees.

Oklahoma City
Majestic_Aerials/istockphoto

18. OKLAHOMA CITY

The primary takeaway for Oklahoma City is that it has a worse-than-average pollen score. The use of allergy medications and number of board-certified allergists per patient are both average. Its overall score is 68.64.

Columbia, South Carolina
Kruck20/istockphoto

19. COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA

Columbia is something of a mixed bag. It has just an average pollen score and an average number of board-certified allergists. However, its rate of allergy medication use is higher than average, resulting in an overall score of 68.57.

Knoxville, Tennessee
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

20. KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE

Knoxville has the same profile as Columbia — an average pollen score and average number of board-certified allergists, but residents use more allergy medication than average. The city's overall score is 68.01.

New York
FilippoBacci/istockphoto

21. NEW YORK

Although the Big Apple's pollen score is merely average, the city has higher-than-average allergy medication use and a worse-than-average ratio of board-certified allergists to patients. Its overall score is 67.48.

Hartford, Connecticut
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

22. HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT

Hartford's worse-than-average pollen score doesn't seem to have an overwhelming impact on residents, who use an average amount of medication to cope with allergies, according to the report. The city, which scores 67.04, also has an average number of board-certified allergists compared to patients.

New Haven, Connecticut
ghardgrave/istockphoto

23. NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

Earning a score of 66.76, New Haven likewise has a worse-than-average pollen score. Yet here, too, residents use only an average amount of allergy medication. The city also has a better-than-average ratio of board-certified allergists to patients.

Greenville, South Carolina
Kruck20/istockphoto

24. GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA

The most notable part of Greenville's score (66.74) is its higher-than-average use of allergy medications. The city has an average ratio of board-certified allergists to patients and an average pollen score.

Philadelphia
Roman Babakin/istockphoto

25. PHILADELPHIA

In history-rich Philadelphia, allergy medication use is more prevalent than average. The city's pollen score, however, is average, as is its ratio of board-certified allergists to patients. Overall the city scores 66.32.

Further down the list are cities that score better than average for allergy sufferers ...

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
traveler1116/istockphoto

78. HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg has a score of 45.38, well below the 55.87 average for allergy misery among all cities studied in the report. While Harrisburg has a better-than-average pollen score, it still ranks average for its use of allergy medications and allergy-doctor-to-patient ratio.

Phoenix
Davel5957/istockphoto

79. PHOENIX

Famous for its dry desert climate, Phoenix is not a place plagued by spring allergies. The city ranks better than average for both pollen and use of allergy medications. The number of board-certified allergy doctors here is just average, which also stands to reason in a city where there doesn't appear to be a lot of people suffering from seasonal allergies. Phoenix's overall score is 43.87.

Sacramento, California
dszc/istockphoto

80. SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

The capital of California, Sacramento is another predominantly warm, dry place. The city, which scores 43.79 overall, logs about 269 sunny days annually and gets only about 22 inches of rain per year. Mirroring Phoenix, its ratings for pollen and use of allergy medications are both better than average, and the number of board-certified allergy doctors is average.

Washington, D.C.
Joecho-16/istockphoto

81. WASHINGTON, D.C.

The nation's capital is a place where the pollen score and rating for use of allergy medications are both better than average. The number of board-certified allergists per patient, on the other hand, is worse than average. Its total score is 43.47.

Related: 23 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Palm Bay, Florida
Courtesy of palmbayflorida.org

82. PALM BAY, FLORIDA

A tiny city in central Florida, Palm Bay earned a score of 43.30 on the Allergy Capitals report. It has an average score for pollen and ratio of board-certified allergists to patients and a better-than-average score for use of allergy medications.

Kansas City, Missouri
TriggerPhoto/istockphoto

83. KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Kansas City's score is 43.10. The city, located on Missouri's western border with Kansas, has a better-than-average pollen score. The use of allergy medications and number of allergy doctors per patient are both average.

Daytona Beach, Florida
Javier_Art_Photography/istockphoto

84. DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

In Daytona, a place perhaps best known for drawing spring break crowds and being home to an international speedway, the pollen score is average, as is the number of board-certified allergy doctors. Use of allergy medications, meanwhile, is better than average. The city's total score in the study is 42.16.

Milwaukee
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

85. MILWAUKEE

Another city to keep in mind this spring if you're seeking to minimize allergies, Milwaukee (which scores 41.83) offers a better-than-average pollen score, and average scores for allergy medication use and local allergy doctors.

Sarasota, Florida
Ryan McGill/istockphoto

86. SARASOTA, FLORIDA

Sarasota scores 41.55 in the Allergy Capitals study. While the pollen and number of local allergy doctors is average, allergy medicine use per patient is better than average in this city south of Tampa on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Des Moines, Iowa
pabradyphoto/istockphoto

87. DES MOINES, IOWA

Des Moines scores better than average in the pollen and medication-use categories but is hindered by its allergy-doctor-to-patient ratio. The city earns a total score of 41.46.

San Diego
Ron_Thomas/istockphoto

88. SAN DIEGO

"America's Finest City" is a fine place to be if allergies are an issue for you. The sunny southern California beach community (which scores 41.30) is better than average in the allergy-medication-use column but scores average for pollen and its ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients.

Spokane, Washington
gregobagel/istockphoto

89. SPOKANE, WASHINGTON

Spokane's pollen and doctor-to-patient ratio scores are average. However, this city in eastern Washington rates better than average for use of allergy medications, contributing to an overall score of 40.61.

San Francisco
ibsky/istockphoto

90. SAN FRANCISCO

The City by the Bay has an average pollen score and number of allergy doctors per patient. Its rating for use of allergy medications per patient is above average. Overall, the city's score is 40.12.

Related: 20 Free and Cheap Things to Do in San Francisco

Raleigh, North Carolina
Mlenny/istockphoto

91. RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

With its better-than-average scores for pollen and allergy medication use, Raleigh just may be the place to visit this spring. The capital of North Carolina, known for its universities, has an average number of board-certified allergists per patient and an overall score of 39.04.

San Jose, California
SpVVK/istockphoto

92. SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

A large city surrounded by rolling hills in California's Silicon Valley, San Jose has an average pollen score, but its residents' use of allergy medications and its number of board-certified allergy doctors per patient are better than average. San Jose's overall score in the Allergy Capitals ranking is 37.34.

Seattle
libre de droit/istockphoto

93. SEATTLE

A gem in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is surrounded by water, mountains, and lush forests. Yet it is one of the best places for people who suffer from spring allergies. The city's score, 36.40, includes better-than-average rankings for both pollen and use of allergy medications. Its allergy-doctor-to-patient ratio is average.

Portland, Oregon
halbergman/istockphoto

94. PORTLAND, OREGON

Another top destination in the Pacific Northwest, Portland also has a better-than-average pollen score and rates better than average for use of allergy medications. The ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients, however, is worse than average. The city's final score is 33.82.

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Richard Bittles/istockphoto

95. COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

The city of Colorado Springs received an overall score of 32.71. Its profile includes a better-than-average pollen score and a better-than-average rating for use of allergy medications, along with an average ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients.

Salt Lake City
Joecho-16/istockphoto

96. SALT LAKE CITY

Like Colorado Springs, this Utah city has a better-than-average pollen score and rates better than average for use of allergy medications. Its ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients is average. Salt Lake City's total score in the Allergy Capitals ranking is a very respectable 32.48.

Ogden, Utah
Davel5957/istockphoto

97. OGDEN, UTAH

A city perhaps best known for being a gateway to Utah's ski resorts, Ogden has an allergy score of 31.78. It boasts a better-than-average pollen score and rates better than average for use of allergy medications. The ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients, however, is worse than average.

Boise, Idaho
peeterv/istockphoto

98. BOISE, IDAHO

Another of the country's best places to avoid spring allergies is Boise, with its score of 29.88, which features a better-than-average pollen score and rates better than average for use of allergy medications. The ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients is average.

Provo, Utah
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

99. PROVO, UTAH

Utah certainly seems to be a sure bet for avoiding spring allergies. The third Utah city to rank among the best in the country, Provo offers a better-than-average pollen score and rates better-than-average for use of allergy medications. It has an average ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients, and its overall score is 26.83.

Denver
RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/istockphoto

100. DENVER

With an overall score of 26.07, Denver emerges as the best place to go if you're aiming to avoid a spring allergy episode. The Mile High City's profile includes a better-than-average pollen score, a rating of better than average for use of allergy medications, and an average ratio of board-certified allergy doctors to patients.