The 15 Worst Cities for Allergies

Woman with allergies
FGC / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Filterbuy.

Allergies are a leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., affecting more than 50 million individuals annually. The most common allergic condition, allergic rhinitis (or hay fever), affects more than 24 million individuals, including 5 million children, who are at higher risk for allergies.

Other common allergic conditions impacting children include skin and respiratory allergies, which affect 12.6% and 9.6% of individuals under the age of 18, respectively. While residents throughout the country are impacted, some cities are far worse for people with allergies.

Allergies take a major toll on the health care system, with hay fever alone accounting for 12 million physician visits in 2016. A number of factors contribute to allergies, such as airborne allergens like pollen or pet dander, as well as sensitivity to certain foods and medications. The consequences of allergies can impact the ability of individuals to live a healthy lifestyle, as those residing in high-allergy areas often report lower levels of physical activity and self-reported health.

To profile the worst cities for allergies, researchers from Filterbuy analyzed data from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Cities were given scores based on pollen counts, allergy medicine use, and the number of allergists in the area. Cities were then ranked based on their scores. Data on physical activity and self-reported health were retrieved from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cities with the worst allergy problems are largely located in the Eastern U.S., with four of the five worst cities for allergies located in the Northeast. Cities with high allergy rates also report low levels of physical activity and health. Extreme cases include Dayton, Ohio, where less than 61% of adults report physical activity, versus a national rate of 74%. In the same city, 82% of adults report good physical health, versus a national rate of 87%.

Allergy ranking data in this report are from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2020 Allergy Capitals report, which was conducted at the MSA level. The rankings are based on three factors:

  • Pollen counts
  • Use of allergy medicine
  • The number of board-certified allergists in each location

Higher scores on the 100-point scale corresponded to a location being worse for allergies.

For the purpose of this analysis, the MSA-level allergy statistics were assigned to their corresponding principal cities and combined with statistics on physical activity and health from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities Project. Only the principal cities of the 100 most-populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) in the contiguous 48 states were included in the analysis.

Approximately 15% of the U.S. population suffers from allergies. With increases in allergy diagnoses, especially among children, it is important that preventive strategies are taken to reduce their impact. Some strategies include:

  • Monitoring pollen counts and avoiding outdoor activities on high pollen count days
  • Wearing a mask when doing yard work
  • Using (and frequently changing) allergy-friendly air filters

For those with severe allergy problems, it is important to consult with a physician ahead of allergy season, while also becoming familiar with over-the-counter allergy treatments such as antihistamines and nasal sprays that relieve allergy symptoms.

Here are the 15 worst cities in the U.S. for allergies.

15. Memphis, Tennessee

Street scene, Memphis, Tennessee.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 78.43
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 15
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 19
  • Adults who report physical activity: 65.1%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 84.1%

14. Las Vegas

Business Stock / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 80.24
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 14
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 16
  • Adults who report physical activity: 70.1%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 85.8%

13. Dayton, Ohio

Decorative bridges in Dayton, Ohio
Madison Muskopf / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 81.17
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 16
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 9
  • Adults who report physical activity: 60.7%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 82.4%

12. Riverside, California

Peace Bridge
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 81.98
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 13
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 10
  • Adults who report physical activity: 77.4%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 87.7%

11. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach, Virginia
JoMo333 / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 82.35
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 9
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 14
  • Adults who report physical activity: 76.6%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 89.8%

10. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 85.11
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 10
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 6
  • Adults who report physical activity: 75.6%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 88.1%

9. Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City skyline
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 86.12
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 8
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 5
  • Adults who report physical activity: 67.6%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 85.6%

8. Bridgeport, Connecticut

Black Rock Harbor in Bridgeport, Connecticut
Allan Wood Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 86.68
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 6
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 13
  • Adults who report physical activity: 70.9%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 87.3%

7. San Antonio

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 87.21
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 12
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 4
  • Adults who report physical activity: 65.7%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 86.7%

6. New Haven, Connecticut

Yale University
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 87.25
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 5
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 12
  • Adults who report physical activity: 70.6%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 88%

5. McAllen, Texas

Rio Grande river, McAllen, Texas
MechanicSloth / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 87.52
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 11
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 3
  • Adults who report physical activity: 65.6%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 85.8%

4. Hartford, Connecticut

Connecticut capitol building in Hartford
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 90.14
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 4
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 8
  • Adults who report physical activity: 66.2%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 85.5%

3. Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 90.45
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 3
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 7
  • Adults who report physical activity: 66.1%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 83.3%

2. Scranton, Pennsylvania

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 98.53
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 2
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 1
  • Adults who report physical activity: 70.2%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 84.1%

1. Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Overall score (higher=worse for allergies): 100.00
  • Spring seasonal allergies rank: 1
  • Fall seasonal allergies rank: 2
  • Adults who report physical activity: 71.7%
  • Adults who report good physical health: 87%

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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