Achoo! The Worst Cities for Spring Allergy Sufferers

Though the city scored average for pollen, high medication use and a low allergist-to-patient ratio kept Little Rock in the AAFA's Top 10 cities where living with allergies can be challenging.

8. New Orleans, La.

Rank last year: 58

The birthplace of jazz, known for music, Mardi Gras and one of the most unique cultures in the United States is also an hotbed of allergens. According to the AAFA, New Orleans had worse than average rates of medication utilization and a low allergist-to-patient ratio.

And though the pollen count was average compared to the rest of the cities in the AAFA report, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina continues to affect allergy sufferers.

"The low allergist number is still due to the storm," said Felicia Rabito, clinical associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "Our health-care infrastructure is not back after the storm."

New Orleans is a humid, semitropical climate with many indoor and outdoor allergens. But after the storms, with many properties left to fester, overgrowing weeds and grasses in many parts of the city may have contributed to New Orleans' rank this year.

Rabito is part of an ongoing study to determine whether people who are not normally allergic are now becoming allergic to the increased number of allergens.

7. Birmingham, Ala.

Rank last year: 23

Located at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Birmingham grew so much and so quickly at the turn of the century that it got the nickname The Magic City.

But with more green spaces per capita than any other city in the country, it is no wonder that living with allergies in Birmingham can be a challenge. The city had high pollen counts, high incidence of medicine use and a low allergist-to-patient ratio.

6. Knoxville, Tenn.

Rank last year: 63

Knoxville has a rich cultural heritage, part of which earned it the nickname The Underwear Capital of the World. This name came about because the city was home to a large number of clothing mills and textile companies in the 1930s.

If those mills were still operational, they might be successful if they manufactured handkerchiefs for those with allergies in the area.

Knoxville had an average pollen score as well as an average number of allergists in the area. However, the medication utilization score was very high, greater than the average usage, which, according to the AAFA, averages two types of medication per person.

5. Jackson, Miss.

Rank last year: 30

Located on the Pearl River, Jackson is the capital of Mississippi. Cities in this part of the country are the "ideal environment for pollens and mold," Miller said.

Like much of the Southeast, Jackson has heat and humidity, which lends itself to a high incidence of ragweed and other pollen-producing plants, as well promoting indoor allergens.

The city had both high rates of pollen and medicine utilization in the past year, according to the AAFA's report.

4: Augusta, Ga.

Rank last year: 11

Perhaps its nickname, The Garden City of the South, is an indication that Augusta, Ga., may not be the most allergy-friendly city. Higher-than-average pollen counts and incidence of medicine usage nudged the city into the top 10 of the AAFA's list compared to last year.

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