Spring is springing. Soon cars will be covered in that familiar green film and trash cans will be filled with used tissues. You will hear a lot of “gesundheit” and “bless you” and see folks itching their eyes and filing them with drops. Along with green grass, lush trees and pretty flowers come the dreaded seasonal allergies.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 50 million Americans deal with some type of allergy each year. For those suffering from seasonal allergies you’re talking lots of pollen, grass, weeds and mold. Undoubtedly, some places in the country are going to be worse than others for those with spring allergies. The AAFA recently released their 2021 Allergy Capitals™ list — the 10 worst cities for allergy sufferers. For those looking to go without the itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing, these are the places to avoid.
10. Bridgeport, CT
Bridgeport is not only Connecticut’s largest city, it is also among the worst in the country for seasonal-allergy sufferers. It is located at the mouth of the Pequonnock River, about 60 miles from Manhattan. The town offers a beautiful landscape and outside fun, including Adventure Park, located on five acres and filled with walking trails, zip lines and challenge bridges. But adventurers beware: Bridgeport is loaded with trees producing pollen, alongside increased mold due to its damp conditions.
9. Oklahoma City, OK
Commonly known as Tornado Alley, Oklahoma City is also home to high tree pollen in the spring months. Allergy sufferers need to be careful of the oak, hackberry and mulberry trees. But fear not, there are plenty of fun things to do, once you’ve taken your meds. OKC has a great water taxi system that runs like a bus through its Bricktown area for you to explore.
8. New Haven, CT
Home to Yale University, New Haven lands at number eight on the list of worst cities for allergy sufferers. Maple trees, native to Connecticut, and ragweed numbers are often high, making it tough for those with seasonal allergies. But New Haven has so much to see, it’s worth taking the allergy meds and getting outside. As one of the first planned communities in the country, New Haven offers unique experiences in distinct neighborhoods throughout town.
7. Springfield, MA
If you’re interested in diving into Springfield’s eclectic food scene, be prepared for a buffet of annoying symptoms. Rich with oaks and located in a valley, Springfield’s poor air quality and high pollen counts make it a less-than-appetizing place for allergy sufferers. But for those willing to brave the allergens, Springfield is home to a diverse ethnic community that offers amazing cuisine from around the world. Plenty of places to dine on the patio, but bring your Kleenex along.
6. Hartford, CT
We head back to Connecticut for the sixth-worst place for allergies on our list. Though lovely in the spring, the combination of grass and tree pollen in Hartford can wreak havoc on your nose and eyes. But if you’ve got your eyedrops handy, head to Bushnell Park. It is the oldest publicly-funded park in American and features the famed Bushnell Carousel, which can be fun for the whole family.
5. Pittsburgh, PA
Spring means the opening of baseball season and perfect weather for a game. But before you run out for nine innings with the Pirates, be sure to check the pollen and mold counts. Pittsburgh is known for rainy Aprils, which leads to the spread of tree pollen and the growth of nasty varieties of mold. Wait until May and head to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to enjoy the spring flowers.
4. McAllen, TX
McAllen is located at the southern tip of the Rio Grande, about 70 miles west of the Gulf of Mexico. McAllen is down South and loaded with allergens that lead to itchy, watery eyes, stuffy noses and annoying coughs. Oak-lined trails releasing veils of pollen in the spring are a major contributor to those nasty allergies. But once you’re stocked up on antihistamine, check out the McAllen Nature Center — a 33-acre site dedicated to outdoor fun which includes a lush botanical garden.
3. Wichita, KS
Situated in the middle of the Midwest, Wichita is a windy town whose flat geography makes it easy to spread the pollen of trees and grass all around during the spring. It is tough to avoid the airbound irritants, but it may be worth it to check out the Sedgwick County Zoo, the seventh-largest in the country, or the Humane-Certified Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Animal lovers will find it worth a couple of extra sneezes to enjoy these awesome wildlife experiences.
2. Richmond, VA
The weather begins to warm up in Richmond in early spring, but this is also the time those oak, maple and river birch trees start shedding their pollen. This can make it a miserable time to be outside in Richmond. But if you’re ready to adventure outdoors anyway, Richmond offers bike trails, kayaking, and even riverboat cruises to get you excited about the new season. Just be sure to keep all of your meds close, because that pollen can be brutal.
1. Scranton, PA
We are back in Pennsylvania for the worst city for seasonal allergies in America. What makes Scranton so bad for those with allergies? Birch trees are the culprit. They release large amounts of pollen and cause allergy sufferers to really suffer in the spring. And just when spring allergies seem to be getting better around July, Scranton slaps its residents in the face with ragweed, and the season just keeps going. If you can handle it, take a trip to the Pocono Riding Trail and take a horseback ride through nature. In your first aid kit, pack lots of meds, sprays, drops and tissues — you’re going to need it.
So what can you do to deal with these miserable allergies? The AAFA offers a few tips. Start simple by keeping your windows closed, take an antihistamine, and use nasal sprays to help ward off those annoying allergy symptoms. Make sure you are using a good HVAC filter in your air conditioner. Wipe pets down when they come inside, and wear a mask when working in your garden. Keep your sunglasses on when you’re outside to reduce the risk of pollen getting in your eyes (and don’t rub them; it will just make things worse!). All of these things can help to make your allergies less miserable, and if you arm yourself properly, you can enjoy the spring and being outside again. Just make sure to keep those tissues handy.
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