You are here:

2014 Worst Cities for Allergies

  • Allergies on the Rise—Which City Is Worst?

    Allergies on the Rise—Which City Is Worst?

    According to the UCLA
    Food and Drug Allergy Care Center,
    allergies affect as many as one in five Americans. A 2011 survey
    reported that both asthma and allergies have increased over the past few decades,
    with more people looking to their doctors for help.

    To help sufferers get a jump on
    their symptoms, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has
    released its annual Spring Allergy Capitals
    report. Researchers analyzed cities based on:

    • pollen scores
    • the number of board-certified
      allergists per 10,000 patients
    • number of allergy medications used
      per patient

    Read on to find out which cities are most likely
    to be hit hardest by allergens in the coming seasons, and if your hometown
    landed on the list.

  • Louisville, Kentucky Tops the List

    Louisville, Kentucky Tops the List

    Louisville, Kentucky unseated last
    year’s number one city, Jackson, Mississippi, as the “most challenging places
    to live with allergies.” It was the only city to receive a score of 100, when
    the national average was 59.92.

    A large part of the problem is the weather.
    Spring allergies are mostly triggered by tree pollen and mold. Cities like
    Louisville have warm air and intermittent rain, creating the perfect conditions
    for rapid tree growth.

  • Memphis, Tennessee

    Memphis, Tennessee

    Coming in less than three points
    behind Louisville, Memphis promises allergy sufferers a lot of grief this
    spring too. It’s moved up the list from number eight last year. The change may
    reflect the general rise scientists are seeing in pollen counts.

    In 2012, the American College of Allergy, Asthma,
    and Immunology (ACAAI)
    reported on a startling study led by allergist Leonard Bielory. It indicated that
    pollen counts are expected to more than double by the year 2040.

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    With an overall score of 91.93,
    Baton Rouge came in third place, climbing from tenth last year. This Louisiana
    city ranked high in pollen score, medications used, and number of allergists
    per 10,000 patients. Baton Rouge is home to a number of trees that pollinate in
    spring, including:

    • red cedar
    • willow
    • bayberry
    • birch
    • oak
    • ash
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Neck and neck with Baton Rouge,
    Oklahoma City just missed third place by 0.74 points. Last year, Oklahoma rated
    ninth to Baton Rouge’s 10th. However, the two cities switched places this year,
    and Baton Rouge pulled ahead.

    Researchers expect pollen counts to continue to
    increase with each year that passes. The ACAAI report noted that climate
    change, weather patterns, changes in rain levels, and temperature all work
    together for an earlier allergy season kickoff in spring, and a longer duration
    in fall.

  • Jackson, Mississippi

    Jackson, Mississippi

    Ranked number one last year, Jackson
    fell to fifth this year, with a score of 90.61. Though the city’s pollen count
    and use of medication are still very high, the number of certified allergists
    per 10,000 patients was reported to be “better than average.”

    To cope with symptoms, try some of
    the following tips:

    • Avoid going out on windy days.
    • Wear a dust mask when doing chores
    • Get ahead of your symptoms by taking
      medications before the suffering starts.

    Use a HEPA filter in your bedroom.

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Are we seeing a pattern here?
    Southerners can expect a hard-hitting allergy season this spring, especially
    those living in Tennessee. Blame the mild climate that allows allergens to come
    out early. Chattanooga scored 90.18, coming in just behind Jackson.

    The city had an average pollen score, and was
    better than average in number of allergists per 10,000 patients. Its worst
    performance was the number of medications used per patient.

  • Dallas, Texas

    Dallas, Texas

    Texans, watch out and get out your
    tissues! Dallas climbed all the way from 23rd last year to seventh this year. With
    a score of 88.82, it ranked worse than average on all three criteria: pollen
    score, medications used, and allergists per 10,000 patients.

    The culprit here is likely to be
    those lovely smelling mountain cedar trees. Other pollen contributors include
    cypress, elm, ash, and poplar. Don’t forget to change your clothes when you get
    home from work to avoid dragging allergens around the house with you.

  • Richmond, Virginia

    Richmond, Virginia

    With number eight, we finally move north—but
    only briefly. Richmond moves up from 22nd place last year, ranking worse than
    average on both pollen score and medications used.

    Common spring allergens in the area include:

    • hackberry
    • juniper
    • pear tree
    • elm
    • hazelnut

    The so-called polar vortex that hit
    many states this year may have also encouraged early pollination. Rapid changes
    in temperature and moisture results in a sort of “blending” of seasons,
    multiplying allergens. 

  • Birmingham, Alabama

    Birmingham, Alabama

    Birmingham ranked number nine, with
    a score of 87.71. It had an above-average use of allergy medications, with an
    average pollen score. Residents take precautions: your city has moved up from
    14th place last year.

    Overall, if you’re thinking about traveling,
    spring will be most difficult in the South, Southeast, and Northeast. Because
    cold weather is expected to stick around a bit longer in the Northeast,
    allergies may be most difficult about a month later there than in Southern

  • McAllen, Texas

    McAllen, Texas

    McAllen, Texas rounds out the top
    ten this year, with an overall score of 87.61, just slightly behind Birmingham.
    It rated worse than average in both pollen count and the number of allergy
    medications used per patient.

    In an area known as the Rio Grande Valley,
    McAllen citizens will suffer from pollen from neighborhood plants, as well as
    from distant mountain cedar trees. Other offenders include mesquite and
    huisache trees, and Bermuda and Johnson grasses. Some may also be affected by
    smoke from fires in nearby Mexico.

  • Take Steps to Reduce Triggers

    Take Steps to Reduce Triggers

    Check with your allergy doctor about
    medications and injections that may help. Remove your shoes and change your
    clothes when you come home to avoid transferring allergens into the house, and
    try to avoid going out on high-pollen days.

    Natural supplements also may help your body
    cope. In a clinical trial of 125 participants, butterbur worked just as well as a common antihistamine
    in easing symptoms like itchy eyes. Some studies have also found that stinging nettle helped
    reduce the sneezing and itching that accompanies hay fever.

Loading next slideshow

Read This Next

Back to Start

Do I Have a Carrot Allergy? »

Allegra vs. Claritin: What’s the Difference? »

Allegra vs. Zyrtec: How Do They Compare? »


  • About
    allergies / Why are allergies increasing? (n.d.). UCLA Health
    Retrieved April 8, 2014, from
  • Allergist:
    Find an allergist. Find Relief. (2012, November 9). American College of
    Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
    Retrieved April 9, 2014, from
  • Paraschiva,
    C. et al. (2011). Epidemiological Survey 6 Years Apart: Increased
    Prevalence of Asthma and Other Allergic Diseases in Schoolchildren Aged
    13-14 Years in Cluj-Napoca, Romania (Based on Isaac Questionnaire). Maedica:
    A Journal of Clinical Medicine
    , 6(1), 10-16. Retrieved April 8,
    2014, from
  • Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud. (2012, July 17). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 9,
    2014, from

woman with tissue to nose

Is It Allergies or a Cold?

infographic of pie chart and statistics

Allergies Statistics and Facts

More About Allergies
  • Gluten Allergies
  • Allergy-Free Recipes
  • Allergies: Is It In Your Genes?
  • Ingested vs. Contact vs. Inhaled Allergies
  • Rash from Hay Fever?
  • Types of Allergies
  • Assess Your Allergy Symptoms

Posted by: Dr.Health

Back to Top