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NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- If you're a spring allergy sufferer who finds that poplar isn't very popular with your sinuses this time of year or hackberry get your hackles up, here's a look at five U.S. cities you might want to avoid moving to.
"Allergies can be a problem no matter where you live -- but some places are worse than others," says Mike Tringale of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which recently released its 11th annual
Spring Allergy Capitals study.
The study ranks the continental United States' 100 largest metro areas on a weighted scale of allergy-related factors.
AAFA gave each community a score between zero and 100 based on springtime pollen counts, how much prescription and over-the-counter medicine the average spring allergy patient buys and how many allergists each community has relative to patient levels.
Tringale says his group has found during more than a decade of compiling its annual rankings that Southern noncoastal communities tend to dominate the top 25 spots for worst springtime allergies.
Northeast cities mostly rank in the middle, while Western metro areas and those along the Florida and Gulf coasts come out the best. (A separate autumn allergy study that the AAFA puts out annually tends to rank Northeast and Mid-Atlantic cities poorly and Southern cities well.)
Tringale theorizes areas with the least springtime allergy problems have environments that don't lend themselves to pollen-producing trees.
Low spring allergy areas also sometimes have winds that come off the ocean, carrying little pollen but lots of sea salt that Tringale suspects cleanses the air (not to mention sufferers' sinuses).
Here's a look at the five metro areas that this year's AAFA study found have the worst problems nationwide with springtime allergies.
Each city's pollen score refers to spring 2012 levels of oak, mulberry and other tree pollens, while medicine use reflects a community's average per-patient springtime consumption of drugs such as antihistamines. The level of allergy doctors per city refers to the ratio of allergy patients to board-certified allergists tracked by the
American Board of Medical Specialties.