5 Best Cities for Spring Allergy Sufferers

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- If allergies hit you hard this time of year, here's some advice that's nothing to sneeze at: Consider moving to a place with fewer allergens.

"Allergies can be a problem no matter where you live, but some places are better than others," says Mike Tringale of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which recently named the five best cities for springtime-allergy sufferers as part of its 11th annual Spring Allergy Capitals study.

Each year, researchers rank the continental United States' 100 largest metro areas on a weighted scale of allergy-related factors. The AAFA gives 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.

The group has long found that Southern noncoastal communities tend to have the worst springtime allergies.

By contrast, Tringale says cities in the West and along the Florida and Gulf coasts generally have the fewest issues.

"You'd think that damp, warm areas like Florida would have a lot of mold allergies, but mold actually requires a very specific temperature range," he says. "If it's too hot, mold won't grow. Salt air can help keep mold at bay as well."

Read on to check out at the five metro areas that this year's AAFA study found have America's fewest problems with springtime allergies.

Each city's pollen score refers to spring 2012 levels of tree pollen and other allergens, while medicine usage 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.

Fifth-best springtime-allergy city: Sarasota, Fla.
Spring allergy score: 47.55 (out of a possible 100)

Tringale believes this community on Florida's Gulf Coast is good for springtime-allergy sufferers because the climate doesn't lend itself to pollen-producing trees, while ocean breezes cleanse the air.

"There's no surrounding land on one entire side Sarasota, so the ocean wind from the west doesn't bring any pollen into town," he says.

All told, the AAFA found that the 862,000-population Sarasota area has an average amount of springtime pollen, but below-average consumption of allergy medications.

Combined with an average ratio of board-certified allergists to allergy patients, the community ranks well in this year's study.

Fourth-best springtime-allergy city: San Diego
Spring allergy score: 47.42

San Diego sits along the Pacific coast, so ocean breezes coming into town carry few if any allergens. That helps give the Southern California city average springtime pollen counts and below-average use of anti-allergy medicines.

The 3.1-million metro area also has an above-average ratio of board-certified allergists to patients, which Tringale says is good news for stuffy-nose sufferers.

"If you don't have enough allergists in your community, you're waiting longer for appointments," he says.

Third-best springtime-allergy city: Portland, Ore.
Spring allergy score: 46.81

The AAFA ranked Portland as the best city for people with springtime allergies in 2011, and the City of Roses came in third place this time around.

Tringale says Portland usually does well in his group's annual study because the city is just 70 miles or so east of the Pacific Ocean, meaning there's little pollen blowing into town.

He adds that pine trees, which only some people are allergic to, dominate in the Portland landscape -- and even then, many trees are in the mountains away from populated areas. That helps give Portland average pollen levels and below-average allergy-medication sales this time of year.

Coupled with an above-average ratio of allergists to patients, Tringale says the 2.3 million-person metro area enjoys "pretty good allergy indicators across the board."

Second-best springtime-allergy city: Boise, Idaho
Spring allergy score: 46.77

You'd think a community that calls itself the City of Trees would have big allergy problems this time of year, but the AAFA has ranked Boise as the second-best continental U.S. community for springtime allergies for two years running.

After all, the 617,000-metro area has below-average allergen levels and lower-than-average allergy-medication sales this time of year.

Tringale says that more than offsets the community's below-average rate of allergists to patients. (The American Board of Medical Specialties lists just four board-certified allergists as working in town.)

"Boise has low pollen and low use of allergy medicines," Tringale says. "All they're really lacking is enough allergists."

Best springtime-allergy city: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Spring allergy score: 43.8

Move to Daytona Beach and you might enjoy a spring break from your allergies.

That's because the AAFA ranks the 495,000-metro area as this spring's most allergy-friendly community.

Located on Florida's Atlantic Coast some 60 miles northeast of Orlando, Daytona Beach has below-average pollen counts this time of year.

"You just don't find the big pollinating trees there that they have in other parts of the country," Tringale says, adding that Daytona's ocean breezes bring in little pollen from outside.

Add in below-average springtime allergy-medicine sales and an average ratio of specialists to patients and allergy sufferers who move to town might find their symptoms clear up faster than a Daytona 500 winner.

"Daytona Beach has a lot of factors that are conducive to helping people with springtime allergies," Tringale says.