Worst Cities for Allergies in 2013

  • Got Allergies? Avoid These Cities

    The results are in: the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has released its 2013 Spring Allergy Capitals report. This annual independent research project identifies the top 100 U.S. cities that are most challenging for allergy sufferers to live in during the spring, based on:

    • pollen scores (tree/airborne grass/mold spores and weed pollen)
    • per patient number of allergy medications 
    • per patient number of allergy specialists

    Click through the slideshow to learn where not to go if you’re sneezing and wheezing! 

  • Jackson, Mississippi

    Drum roll please…the number-one spring allergy capital was determined to be Jackson, Mississippi. On its website, the AAFA notes that this finding is part of a trend that the study has revealed over the years: the top spot for allergies is always a southern city. While just missing the top three spots last year (the city was ranked fourth in 2012), a high pollen score and the greatest use of allergy meds per patient landed Jackson at the top of 2013’s list.

  • Knoxville, Tennessee

    While Jackson’s factor score for allergies was through the charts with an even 100.0, Knoxville was not far behind with 99.62. Ranked the worst city for allergies in 2012, it fell just one spot this year. While its pollen score and medicine utilization were both worse than average, it had a better than average ranking for its number of board-certified allergists available per patient.

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Sticking with the southern trend, Chattanooga made its way into the top three, rising four spots from its 2012 ranking. The city’s score of 94.41 was based on a high pollen score (above the average of 300 grains per cubic meter air daily). Several local pollinating trees—red cedar, hackberry, willow, elm, and poplar—may be partly to blame. In addition to the pollen problem, Chattanooga saw above-average use of allergy medicines (the average is estimated at 1.04 medications per patient). 

  • McAllen, Texas

    The 46-square-mile city of McAllen, Texas, fell to the fourth position after being ranked second last year. McAllen’s population of nearly 800,000—one of the fastest-growing areas in the country—had an above-average ranking of local allergists per patient. The average was determined to be 1.05 board-certified allergists per an estimated 10,000 patients. But its below-average scores in pollen and medicine utilization kept its total score above 90—it weighed in at 91.37.

  • Louisville, Kentucky

    Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby, is also home to many allergy sufferers. Though faring slightly better in the rankings this year in fifth place than it did last year in third, this metropolitan area of more than 1.2 million residents had a greater than average pollen score and a large reliance on allergy medications. A number of local pollinating trees—including red cedar, elm, and poplar—add to the sneeze factor here.

  • Wichita, Kansas

    With a total score just over 90, Wichita held a similar position to last year, when it was ranked fifth. Now falling one place to sixth, the city was average in its number of allergists per patient for its population of 625,526—though, like the top-five cities, it saw worse than average pollen scores and per-patient medicine utilization. Mountain cedar, juniper, and elm trees in the area add pollen to the air. Wichita was the worst city in the Midwestern region for allergies.

  • Dayton, Ohio

    Dayton was the first city in the study to dip below 90, with a total score of 88.33. The second-biggest allergy capital in the Midwest and seventh in the country, Dayton was worse than average for its population of more than 845,000 in all three factors measured: pollen score, medicine utilization, and allergists per patient. A number of pollinating trees in the area—including red cedar, elm, alder, and aspen—contribute to these challenges.

  • Travel Safe and Smart

    While the southern and Midwestern regions rounded out the top seven U.S. allergy capitals this year, the AAFA predicts that some northern cities will face a worse spring allergy season than last year. So if you’re traveling to Buffalo, New York; Springfield, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; or Toledo, Ohio—as well as any of the top seven cities—see your doctor about how to best avoid allergies on the road. To see full results of the AAFA 2013 Spring Allergy Capitals report, visit

  • Sources

    • The AAFA 2013 spring allergy capitals. (2013). Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from
    • McAllen demographics. (2013). City of McAllen. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from
    • The Kentucky derby museum. (2013). Kentucky Derby Museum. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from

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