Jackson, Mississippi Tops List Of "Allergy Capitals"

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS) With Spring in full swing, allergy sufferers across America are facing the onslaught of sneezing, watery eyes, sniffles and other symptom. Adding to the seasonal woes, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is predicting 2013 will be an especially bad year.

The AAFA released its 2013 Spring Allergy Capitals report on Tuesday, listing the worst cities in the U.S. to live for people with allergies. The report was sponsored by Dymista, a nasal spray made by Meda Pharmaceuticals, that is meant to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Jackson, Mississippi topped the list. Wichita, Kansas came in sixth, while Kansas City, MO was 54th.

The tenth annual report ranks the cities based on pollen levels, use of over-the-counter and prescription allergy medication and the number of Board Certified allergist who reside there. Using that information, researchers found the 100 most challenging cities to live in for allergy sufferers.

This year in particular is expected to be worse than usual because it was an unusually wet winter and had early warm temperatures. This means there's going to be earlier tree pollination and higher levels of pollen and outdoor mold. In addition, 2012's hurricanes, severe storms and tornadoes increased mold in areas affected by floods. Reconstruction areas are covered in weeds, which can increase allergy severity. Ground-level ozone pollution as well can trigger symptoms.

"Severe weather patterns can bring higher temperatures, higher pollen levels and increased exposure to outdoor mold, resulting in spring allergies that can peak stronger and last longer," Dr. Bill Berger from the Allergy and Asthma Associates of Southern California said in a press release. "Too often, people with seasonal allergies suffer silently while their symptoms worsen year after year. Allergy sufferers need to learn more about allergies and visit an allergy specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Often more can be done to relieve allergy symptoms that interfere with daily life."

Jackson, Miss. topped this year's annual list, up three spots from 2012's list. The city had a low number of board certified allergists per patient, a very high pollen count and those with allergies largely relied on taking medications for symptoms. Most common tree offenders in Jackson included the local red cedar, hackleberry, elm, willow and poplars.

Fifteen of the top 25 cities were in the South, which is a trend that has been seen in recent years. Part of what is affecting that is that spring comes 10 to 14 days earlier than it did 20 year ago.

"Our spring listing usually features cities from the southeast and deep south, and the number one spot is almost always a southern city," Mike Tringale, AAFA's Vice President of External Affairs, said on the website.

The AAFA hopes that the report will encourage patients to recognize their own allergy symptoms and do what they can to prevent and treat them. There currently is no cure for allergies. The AAFA said that half of seasonal allergy patients said they do not like how slowly their prescription medications work, and many of them still have symptoms even if they are using treatment.

"The severe allergy conditions expected in many cities across the country means more challenges for patients, and a need for powerful and effective treatment options for them to help manage their condition," Tringale said in a press release.

If you do have seasonal allergies, the Mayo Clinic suggests lowering your exposure to allergy triggers by staying indoors on windy days, avoiding chores that may bring up more allergens, removing clothing you wore when you were outside, wearing a dust mask while doing chores and not hanging laundry outside. Extra precautions should be taken when pollen counts are very high. When you are indoors, try to keep your air clean. Don't be afraid to try over-the-counter medication or rinse your sinuses. As with any illness, if it gets too much to handle, see a doctor for more help.

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