"Personal habits, combined with highly local details, like exactly what trees are in your yard, may carry a lot more weight in predicting how a person will feel than any citywide pollen index measure," said Maddox.
And Dr. Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, agreed that a patient's symptoms should be based more on individual exposure than citywide stats. He said the list is problematic because an individual patient with respiratory allergies who is exposed to the pollen that triggers their symptoms will have problems regardless of where they live.
"Of course, this ranking does increase public awareness of the problem of allergies and for those folks in the cities listed there may be an even more heightened awareness."
Curb those Symptoms
Doctors offered several recommendations to curb allergy symptoms, no matter where you live.
Be sure to pay attention to the clock.
"Pollen counts often peak early in the morning, between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., for many but not all, pollens," said Bassett. "Some sufferers may experience less pollen later in the day."
Avoid drying clothes outside on high pollen days, wear big sunglasses to prevent pollen entering the eyes, steer clear of food that can worsen seasonal allergies to trees, such as apples, almonds, hazelnuts, cherries, kiwis and plums. Take a shower after coming in from outside to wash the pollen off the body and close the windows on high-pollen days to avoid bringing the trigger into the house.
Burks also saidto be sure to be aware "of what is causing the symptoms and then the use of good avoidance measures -- antihistamines, nasal steroids and the allergy immunotherapy if needed."
13 Worst Cities for Spring Allergies
1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Louisville, Ky.
3. Charlotte, N.C.
4. Jackson, Miss.
5. Chattanooga, Tenn.
6. Birmingham, Ala.
7. Dayton, Ohio
8. Richmond, Va.
9. McAllen, Texas
10. Madison, Wis.
11. Columbia, S.C.
12. Greensboro, N.C.
13. Wichita, Kan.