Spring allergy score: 91.13 (out of a possible 100) Kentucky's largest city ranks poorly for springtime allergies thanks partly to above-average levels of tree pollen. The 1.3-million metro area particularly has problems with pollen from red cedars, elms, willows, poplars and hackberry trees. The Derby City also has higher-than average per-patient use of allergy medications. In fact, it ranked as America's third-worst city for springtime allergies last year. On the plus side, Louisville has a better-than-average ratio of allergy doctors to allergy patients. Tringale says a high level of allergists means patients don't have to wait as long for appointments, have better odds of getting into experimental-drug trials and often get better access to the latest treatments.
Spring allergy score: 91.37 This South Texas city has perennial problems with springtime allergies, coming in second place in last year's AAFA study. Located along the U.S.-Mexican border, McAllen has above-average springtime pollen counts, with mountain cedar, Arizona cypress, elm, ash and poplar trees all causing particular problems. The 775,000-person metro area also has above-average springtime use of allergy medications, plus a low level of board-certified allergists (the American Board of Medical Specialties says there are just two in the city proper). "McAllen is bad on all three of our indicators," Tringale says.
Spring allergy score: 94.41 Move to Chattanooga and you can expect your breathing to sound like a choo-choo this time of year if you have springtime allergies. That's because the 530,000-person metro area has worse-than-average springtime pollen counts, with lots of allergens from red cedar, hackberry, elm, willow and poplar trees. The south Tennessee city also has higher-than-average allergy-medication consumption this time of year. "Chattanooga has the exact same story we see in many cities with bad springtime allergies -- very high pollen counts and very high medication usage," Tringale says. On the upside, the Scenic City does enjoy an above-average ratio of allergists to patients.
Spring allergy score: 99.62 Knoxville has historically had some of the nation's worst springtime allergy problems, coming in first place in the AAFA's study last year and in many previous years as well. "Knoxville is no stranger to the No. 1 spot in our rankings," Tringale says. "In fact, I'm always surprised when it's not in first place." The 848,000-person metro area suffers from above-average pollen counts, with red cedar, hackberry, elm, willow and poplar trees especially causing problems. Located just 110 miles from Chattanooga, K-Town also has above-average spring usage of allergy medicines. Its only saving grace for allergy sufferers is that Knoxville enjoys an above-average ratio of allergists to patients.
Spring allergy score: 100 Mississippi's state capital is this year's U.S. capital for springtime allergies, too. Jackson placed fourth in the AAFA's 2012 study, but Tringale says the city moved up to No. 1 this year "due to very high pollen and allergy-medication indices. Both are significantly higher there than in other cities." Located in southwest Mississippi, Jackson has particularly bad problems with pollen from red cedar, hackberry, elm, willow and poplar trees. That said, the 539,000-population metro area does enjoy an above-average ratio of board-certified allergists to patients.