Spring is here but so are the sneezes and sniffles that usually accompany it, making more than 50 million people in the U.S. miserable, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. Treating them costs about $18 billion annually.
Every year the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) ranks the worst places for allergies. The report looks at three key factors – pollen score, allergy medication usage and availability of board-certified allergists.
“Pollen allergies are worsening throughout the U.S. due to climate changes,” Dr. Mrinalini Borczuk, an allergist at Long Island City Allergy in New York, says. Some cities on the list have been usual suspects, while others, such as Syracuse in New York, made a shocking jump from No. 20 last year to No. 3 in 2016.
“Weather and seasonal patterns have changed,” Dr. Borczuk adds. “We have had milder winters, which cause early pollination. The late starts of winter have prolonged our fall season as well, prolonging ragweed season, which is the predominant pollen in the fall in the northeast.” The El Nino phenomenon has also had an effect.