Spring allergy season has arrived with sneezes and sniffles. But allergies are more severe in some areas of the country than others.
Many of the most challenging cities to live in for people with seasonal allergies line the East Coast, Southeast and Midwest, according to the 2023 Allergy Capitals report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. But many of the best cities for people with allergies are nearby the worst.
That's because the report didn't just use data about local pollen levels. It also incorporated information about allergy medication usage and the availability of board-certified allergy specialists nearby to rank the 100 most populated cities in the country. So, even if a location has a lot of pollen, its ranking may be offset by the availability of allergists in the area to help people manage their symptoms, for instance.
And if it seems like allergy seasons are getting longer and more severe, you're probably not imagining it. Climate change is contributing to milder winters, which leaves plants with longer growing seasons and more pollen in the world, the report explains. That makes life tough for anyone with pollen allergies — especially those who have asthma triggered by allergies, the AAFA says.
If you're wondering how intense the season might be in your area, check out the list below.
The best and worst cities in the U.S. for seasonal allergies
The most challenging cities for people with allergies:
- Wichita, Kansas
- Dallas, Texas
- Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Sarasota, Florida
- Cape Coral, Florida
- Orlando, Florida
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Greenville, South Carolina
The report also ranked cities based on levels of different types of pollen, including tree, weed and grass pollens. Wichita, Kansas, topped the rankings in all three pollen categories.
The best cities for people with allergies are:
- Buffalo, New York
- Seattle, Washington
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Austin, Texas
- Akron, Ohio
- Washington, D.C.
- Detroit, Michigan
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Columbus, Ohio
- Salt Lake City, Utah
How to manage seasonal allergies
You don't have to just put up with seasonal allergy symptoms. With a combination of medication and good habits, you can enjoy your time outdoors without the itchy eyes, congestion and fatigue that seasonal pollen can bring.
Common over-the-counter allergy medications include oral antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, which may take days or weeks to build to their maximum effects, TODAY.com explained previously. So, ideally, you should start taking those medications before your allergy season arrives.
In addition to medication, there are lots of little tricks to keep your allergies in check. For instance, keeping the windows closed in your home can prevent pollen from finding its way inside. And experts recommend taking a shower when you come back from being outside to remove pollen from your body and hair.
If you feel like your allergy symptoms are getting worse, it's important to check in with an allergist. They can help pinpoint exactly which types of pollen (or other allergens) you react to and may prescribe other types of treatment. Your allergist might also recommend you try immunotherapy, which can be an effective way to manage allergy symptoms long-term.
Finally, the AAFA recommends keeping tabs on the pollen counts in your local area so you know when to take extra precautions. "But not all reports are equal," the AFFA explained. Pollen counts actually take samples from the air while pollen forecasts are just predictions based on weather and historical data, TODAY.com reported previously. Experts suggest using pollen counts from trusted sampling stations near you for the most accurate information.