12 Worst U.S. Cities for Allergy Sufferers

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The season for sneezin'

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It starts with a tickle in your throat. Then your eyes start watering like a sprinkler system on a hot day. As you reach for a tissue, you notice birds singing and freshly bloomed flowers. Spring has sprung — and it has kicked your allergies into high gear.

So where are the worst spots for allergy sufferers? Here are the 12 worst U.S. cities out of 100 ranked by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) for allergy sufferers for the 2019 spring season.

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McAllen, Texas

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McAllen, Texas, scores a (perfect?) 100, but that's not actually a good thing. McAllen earns the top spot on the AAFA's "Allergy Capitals" list for the second year in a row. The city is "worse than average" on three main allergy factors used in the AAFA's ratings:

  1. Pollen levels
  2. Amount of medicine used per patient
  3. Number of board-certified allergists per patient
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Jackson, Mississippi

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Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, has earned the top spot on this list in the past, but for 2019 it scores 84.74 and lands in second place. With a high number of trees and above average rainfall, tree pollen and mold tend to be the biggest local allergy triggers.

Jackson is worse than average on the amount of patients utilizing medication (the average is 1.04 medications per patient). But this year it receives a "better than average" rating on the number of allergists to patients (the average is 1.05 allergists per 10,000 patients).

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Providence, Rhode Island

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Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, ranks third on the list with a score of 80.48. It scores worse than average across all three measures: pollen count, number of medications used, and ratio of allergists to patients in the area.

This city is listed as the worst spot for allergy sufferers in New England, where a mild winter can make allergy season particularly rough.

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Memphis, Tennessee

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Memphis, Tennessee, scores 78.92 from the AAFA. Memphis is worse than average on both pollen levels and the amount of patients utilizing their medication. Memphis receives an average rating on the number of allergists to patients.

Doctors in Memphis say sometimes the plants and trees see a delayed bloom due to cold weather, then as soon as it gets warm, they explode with pollen.

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Springfield, Massachusetts

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Springfield, Massachusetts, scores a 78.76 from the AAFA with worse than average ratings on both pollen levels and the amount of patients utilizing their medication. Springfield receives an average rating on the numbers of allergists to patients.

Early spring allergies in Springfield usually stem from juniper trees, with ragweed and grass pollen arriving later in spring after the often-snow-covered ground finishes thawing.

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Louisville, Kentucky

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Louisville, Kentucky, scores a 78.67 from the AAFA. Louisville is worse than average on both pollen levels and the amount of patients utilizing their medication. Louisville scores better than average on the numbers of allergists to patients.

The largest city in Kentucky is often in the top 10 on this list. Why? Blame their famous bluegrass. It gives off more pollen than any other type of grass. Other factors that can make allergies in this area worse: its location next to the Ohio River, the bowl-like shape of the Ohio Valley and the humidity that gets trapped there in warmer months.

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New Orleans, Louisiana

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New Orleans, Louisiana, scores a 73.56 from the AAFA. New Orleans is worse than average for patients using medications, but average for pollen count and the ratio of allergists to patients.

Warm winters can cause plants and trees to bloom earlier, making allergy season worse for residents of this city. Experts say that spring's rising and falling temperatures can confuse plants, causing some to bloom at different times and creating new combinations of types of pollen.

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Scranton, Pennsylvania

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Scranton, Pennsylvania, scores a 73.04 from the AAFA and lands 8th on the list, which is a big leap from 47th place in 2018. This city in Northeast Pennsylvania is worse than average on both pollen levels and the numbers of allergists to patients. It receives an "average" rating on the amount of patients utilizing their medication.

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, scores 72.67 from the AAFA. Baton Rouge ranks as average on pollen levels and the numbers of allergists to patients but worse than average the amount of patients utilizing their medication.

Why are allergies so bad here? The coastal area of Baton Rouge is heavily populated with pollinating trees such as red cedar, willow, bayberry, ash, birch and oak.

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Richmond, Virginia

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Richmond, the capital of Virginia, scores 72.45 from the AAFA. It ranks worse than average on pollen levels and average for patients utilizing their medication and the numbers of allergists to patients.

Located on the James River, historic rainfall in 2018 may be one cause of increased allergy activity near Richmond this year.

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Toledo, Ohio

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Toledo, Ohio, scores 71.82 and lands in 11th place on the AAFA's list. While it scores average as far as pollen count and the allergist-to-patient ratio, it scores below average in patient medication use. The city earns the distinction of being the worst spot for allergy sufferers in the Midwest.

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Syracuse, New York

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Syracuse, New York, lands in 12th place on the AAFA's list with a score of 71.28. It gets below average ratings in pollen levels and medication use, and gets an average rating in number of allergists to patients.

Mild winters may make allergy season worse in central New York. When warm weather arrives earlier, plants and trees pollenate for longer.