Ah-choo! These cities are the allergy capitals of America

April 18, 2023

Wichita, Kansas, has topped the list of U.S. cities that—based on their high pollen counts, residents’ use of OTC medications, and lack of board-certified allergists—are the bane of allergy sufferers, reports The Hill.

The data have been gleaned from a report produced for the past 20 years by The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) to help people recognize, prevent, and manage seasonal allergies.

Since the first report was produced by the AAFA in 2003, seasonal allergies have worsened, the group says. Climate change has caused the growing seasons to get longer and warmer—leading to higher tree, grass, and weed pollen counts. Some parts of the United States now have pollen year-round.

Florida had the most cities on the 2023 AAFA top-20 list—with seven ranked overly sneezy. Sixth-place Sarasota ranked highest in the state.

From 1990-2018, the plant growing season extended an average of 20 days—producing about 21% more pollen, according to the AAFA. Last month’s report on seasonal allergies from Climate Central found allergy seasons grew by as much as 50-99 days in some cities.

“We are experiencing longer and more intense allergy seasons because of climate change. For people with asthma, allergies can trigger an asthma attack,” said Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of AAFA. “If we don’t take immediate action on the climate crisis, pollen production will only intensify.”

Intense allergy seasons pose a risk to the nearly 26 million Americans with asthma, according to AAFA. The report said the condition is triggered by allergies in 60% to 80% of patients.

“As pollen counts spike, we often see spikes in emergency room visits for asthma,” Mendez said. “Around 3,600 people per year die from asthma, so it is important to address and manage asthma and allergy triggers where you live.”

The top 20 Allergy Capitals of America, according to the AAFA:

1. Wichita, KS 11. Virginia Beach, VA
2. Dallas, TX 12. Houston, TX
3. Scranton, PA 13. Little Rock, AR
4. Oklahoma City, OK 14. Miami, FL
5. Tulsa, OK 15. Lakeland, FL
6. Sarasota, FL 16. Raleigh, NC
7. Cape Coral, FL 17. Palm Bay, FL
8. Orlando, FL 18. Tampa, FL
9. Des Moines, IA 19. Greensboro, NC
10. Greenville, SC 20. Rochester, NY

To see where the other 80 metros rank, view the full allergy capitals report here.

Research contact: @thehill