What are the worst cities for allergies in the US? Check our map

Spring time represents a fresh start with warmer weather, blossoming flowers and longer days. But for those dealing with seasonal allergies, spring is marked by itchy eyes and throats, runny noses and lots of sneezing.

This spring is particularly difficult for the 80 million people who suffer from seasonal allergies.

Allergy season came early and is expected to stay around longer. North American pollen seasons are 20 days longer than they were in 1990, the nonprofit news organization Climate Central reported.

In recent years, changes in our climate have increased frost-free days and led to warmer seasonal temperatures and changes in rain patterns. These factors lead plants to blossom sooner and longer.

Where are pollen counts at their highest

The South, Southeast and parts of the Midwest have the highest pollen counts in the nation as of early April, according to data from Pollen.com.

Denver, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Dallas, Texas had the highest counts of pollen, in the first week of April.

These U.S. cities are the worst for people with seasonal allergies

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America discovered which major cities in the U.S. are the worst for people with seasonal allergies. The researchers looked at daily pollen counts, availability of allergy specialists and over-the-counter medication use for population’s in 100 of the nation’s largest cities.

Wichita, Kansas ranked number one on the list of worst places to live with seasonal allergies. The following cities round out the top 10:

  1. Wichita, Kansas
  2. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  3. Greenville, South Carolina
  4. Dallas, Texas
  5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  6. Tulsa, Oklahoma
  7. Richmond, Virginia
  8. Des Moines, Iowa
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina
  10. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Tired of suffering from allergies?: These tips from an expert may offer relief

Where is allergy season getting longer?

Climate Central analyzed data from nearly 200 cities and discovered that allergy season has grown longer in 83% of locations or 164 cities in total. Since 1970, allergy season has grown longer due to a warming climate. Longer and earlier spring means plants have more time to grow and release allergy-inducing pollen earlier in spring and later into fall, according to the researchers.

These cities had their allergy season lengthen the most since 1970:

  1. Reno, Nevada: 95 days longer
  2. Las Cruces, New Mexico: 65 days longer
  3. Medford, Oregon: 61 days longer
  4. Boise, Idaho: 51 days longer
  5. Tupelo, Mississippi: 50 days longer
  6. Missoula, Montana: 48 days longer
  7. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 48 days longer
  8. El Paso, Texas: 47 days longer
  9. Toledo, Ohio: 45 days longer
  10. Eugene, Oregon: 40 days longer

Higher levels of CO2 can boost pollen production in plants, such as grasses and ragweed, according to Climate Central. The outlet reported that the U.S. could face up to a 200% increase in pollen production by the end of this century due to high levels of CO2 production.

Is it allergy season already? How early spring is bringing more pollen (and sneezing)

How pollen affects your body?

Plants, trees and grass release pollen in the spring to fertilize other plants of the same species. The powdery particles drift in the air and are easily inhaled.

In some people, inhaling pollen causes their immune systems to overreact. The immune system sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens. That leads to the release of histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger runny noses, itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms

Common symptoms of pollen allergies

Finding yourself uncomfortable after breathing in some fresh air? You may be suffering from seasonal allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the most common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose (also known as rhinorrhea)
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes

If you are already an asthma sufferer, exposure to pollen may make your symptoms worse. This is called allergic asthma and is the most common type. If you find yourself facing additional or worsening asthma symptoms due to environmental exposure, talk to your healthcare provider.

Contributing: Mary Walrath-Holdridge

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