As a hayfever sufferer in the north of England it is the early Summer months of June and July that bring on a sense of dread. In the UK by far
the biggest cause of hayfever is grass pollen whose levels skyrocket at that time of year.
In other countries
however Spring hayfever, caused by tree pollen, is a common problem. The main offenders tend to be elder, elm, hazel and especially birch.
A new report from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America provides an interesting guide to Springtime allergies. Think of it as a league table of US cities best avoided if Spring has you sneezing and rubbing your eyes!
The report states that last year was particularly bad for Spring allergies and puts this down to a combination of climate change and specific regional weather patterns which caused trees to pollinate all at once rather than the process being spread out over a month or more. To provide a guide to those affected by Spring hayfever the non-profit Foundation ranked cities based on pollen counts, medication usage by allergy patients and the number of board-certified allergists per patient. Using this data they calculated a single allergy score for major cities around the US.
And the worst cities in the US for Spring allergies are....
1. Lexington, Kentucky
2. Greensboro, North Carolina
3. Johnson City, Tennessee
4. Augusta, Georgia
5. Jackson, Mississippi
6. Knoxville, Tennessee
7. Birmingham, Alabama
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
9. Little Rock, Arkansas
10. San Diego, California
While these results don't come as much of a surprise, it's still interesting to have information like this presented in this way. For those whose American geography is a little rusty, all the cities in the top 10 are in the southern half of the country and generally have a lot of wide open spaces and agricultural land. The combination of warm weather a lot of trees is the perfect recipe for a hayfever nightmare! Perhaps the only small surprise is San Diego's appearance in the list. Obviously it is very warm in spring but I would have thought the population of trees would have been a lot less than the other cities; it also has a high number of board certified allergists. One reason it may rank so highly is the poor use of allergy treatment by the San Diego population, perhaps due to high healthcare costs in the city.
At the other end of the list we see obvious differences with cities in either more northern or more arid areas creeping in. Many cities in the state of Florida appear here as despite being in the warm south, most of the trees in Florida tend to be palm trees which tend to cause fewer problems than other types.
1. Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona
2. Fresno, California
3. Portland, Oregon
4. Fort Myers, Florida
5. Orlando, Florida
6. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
7. Sarasota, Florida
8. Bakersfield, California
9. San Fransisco, California
10. Spokane, Washington
Full list available here
So there you have it. If you live in the US and suffer from Spring allergies you now have a handy guide to help you plan trips to avoid the worst of the hayfever season.
Of course if you happen to live in one of the worst affected cities you'll need an alternative to leaving home for a few months! In this case you might find the following articles useful:
I wish you all a happy and hayfever-free Spring!