If you were planning a spring break in Miami or Orlando but have allergies, you may want to reconsider the trip.
The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America has revealed the 20 worst cities in the country for pollen counts, with seven in Florida alone.
Experts warn that a milder winter this year could make allergy season particularly brutal.
The map above shows the 20 worst places to live or take a vacation if you have a pollen allergy in the United States. Some 17 of the 20 are in the South, with Florida having the most in seven of the 20 hotspots. Experts warned that the state’s year-round temperate climate was to blame.
The graph above compares grass pollen counts in Wichita, Kansas, which was named the worst place to have a pollen allergy in the US. At the other end of the scale was Seattle, Washington, in the top five places to people allergic to pollen. The 100 most populous cities in the United States were ranked based on pollen counts, prescriptions for over-the-counter allergy medications, and the number of allergy specialists in each state.
Kenneth Mendez, president of the AAFA that published the rankings in its annual report, warned: ‘We are experiencing longer and more intense allergy seasons due to climate change.
‘If we don’t take immediate action on the climate crisis, pollen production will only intensify.
“This means more allergy and asthma attacks and additional strain on our healthcare systems.”
The AAFA analyzed data from the 100 most populous cities in the United States for its report.
Each was ranked based on five factors: pollen levels from trees, grasses and weeds, over-the-counter allergy medications and the number of allergists in the area in the past year.
They were assigned a score from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating a worse season.
At the top of the list was Wichita, Kansas, one of only two Midwestern cities to make the top twenty allergy hotspots.
Rounding out the top five were Dallas in Texas, Scranton in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, also in Oklahoma.
The AAFA told DailyMail.com they had ranked Wichita at the top of the list because it had very high tree and grass pollen scores and higher-than-average use of allergy medications.
There are also a limited number of allergy specialists in the state, he added.
Seven of the 20 worst allergy hotspots are in Florida, with Sarasota, Cape Coral and Orlando topping the list.
The researchers said this was due to the state’s year-round warm climate, which causes plants to constantly release pollen.
The state has previously been described as having one of the “most powerful and longest” allergy seasons in the US.
However, at the other end of the scale, the AAFA rankings also revealed which cities were the best vacation spots for allergy sufferers.
Buffalo in New York, which is only 20 miles from the famous Niagara Falls, was named the best place to visit for people with pollen allergies.
Seattle in Washington followed, Cleveland in Ohio, Austin in Texas and Akron also in Ohio.
In the top 20, the Midwest made up the most states with seven of the best places for allergy sufferers. These were in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
The researchers suggested that colder winters shortened the pollen season in the region. Humid weather could also help because it would help remove pollen granules from the air.
Austin is facing allergy season brought on by the infamous mountain cedar, which releases pollen from December through February but has a lower rate of allergy sufferers compared to the national average.
The AAFA report excluded Alaska and Hawaii because they have few areas available to count pollen counts.
The map above shows the leaf index for the entire United States through March 7, 2023. Red indicates earlier than normal blooming, while blue indicates later than normal blooming. Data shows that across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States this is earlier than normal
Estimates suggest that up to 67 million Americans have a pollen allergy, including 14 million children.
Some 25 million also have asthma, which can be triggered or worsened by the release of airborne pollen.
But these figures are expected to continue to increase in the coming years. It’s not clear what is driving the levels up, but some have suggested that more people living in a sanitized environment may be behind it.
A pollen allergy is when the immune system overreacts to the substance and launches an attack believing it to be a threat.
This can leave people with shortness of breath, a runny nose, and puffy eyes.
But in severe cases, even in people with asthma, it can trigger a tightening of the muscles lining the airways and the production of mucus that makes breathing difficult.
Most people are only allergic to a specific type of pollen, which means that their allergy is only triggered at a certain time of the year.
Trees are the first to release pollen from February to early summer, followed by grasses from April to early June, and weeds from late summer to fall.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a common but incurable condition that affects the small tubes within the lungs.
It can cause them to become inflamed or swollen, which restricts the airways and makes it difficult to breathe.
The condition affects people of all ages, often starting in childhood. Symptoms may improve or even disappear as children get older, but may reappear in adulthood.
Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing, and these may worsen during an asthma attack.
Treatment usually involves medications that are inhaled to calm the lungs.
Triggers for the condition include allergies, dust, air pollution, exercise, and infections such as a cold or flu.
If you think you or your child have asthma, you should see a doctor, as more serious complications such as fatigue or lung infections may develop.