Oklahoma City Ranks Ninth for Most Challenging Cities for Allergies

Oklahoma City Ranks Ninth for Most Challenging Cities for Allergies

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released Feb. 23 its annual Allergy Capitals™ report for 2021 which identifies the most challenging cities for spring and fall allergies in the top 100 metropolitan areas in the United States. Oklahoma City was ranked ninth. Scranton, Pennsylvania took the top spot for 2021.

Cities are ranked based on three factors: spring and fall pollen scores, over-the-counter medicine use, and availability of board-certified allergists. Richmond, Virginia held the #1 title in 2020. The top 20 Allergy Capitals™ for 2021 are: 1. Scranton, Pennsylvania; 2. Richmond, Virginia; 3. Wichita, Kansas; 4. McAllen, Texas; 5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 6. Hartford, Connecticut; 7. Springfield, Massachusetts; 8. New Haven, Connecticut; 9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; 10. Bridgeport, Connecticut; 11. Albany, New York; 12. Virginia Beach, Virginia; 13. Buffalo, New York; 14. San Antonio, Texas; 15. Dayton, Ohio; 16. Riverside, California; 17. Las Vegas, Nevada; 18. Memphis, Tennessee; 19. Dallas, Texas; and 20. Louisville, Kentucky. Tulsa, Oklahoma was ranked 21.

“Allergies are a serious public health concern. More than 24 million people in the U.S. have seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly referred to as hay fever. Pollen allergies are a major cause. AAFA’s Allergy Capitals™ report helps more Americans make sense of the impact on individual and community health,” says Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of AAFA. “Two notable parts of our 2021 report include the effect of COVID-19 and climate change on seasonal allergies. In 2020, fewer people felt the impact of pollen allergies. This is likely due to COVID-19 restrictions with more people staying indoors. But climate change continues to cause longer and more severe allergy seasons. If we don’t slow down the cycle, pollen production will only intensify. This means symptoms could worsen as climate change continues to evolve.”

Seasonal pollen allergies cause nasal, sinus, and other symptoms each spring through fall. Pollen can also trigger asthma attacks. Tree pollen season starts as early as January in some parts of the U.S. and continues through summer. In the fall, weed pollen including ragweed, causes symptoms. But relief is possible with the right treatment and by managing contact with pollen. Oklahoma City just had several allergy alert days in March for cedar and elm tree pollen which is always problematic in the winter months.

“It’s important people with seasonal allergies prepare. They should try their best to reduce exposure to pollen,” says Dr. Mitchell Grayson, chair of AAFA’s Medical Scientific Council and Director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University. “Schedule an appointment with your allergist to work on a treatment plan together to help reduce allergy symptoms when prevention is not enough.”

Treatment options include over-the-counter or prescription allergy medicines. Medications are most effective when started before allergy season begins.

“If medicines are not helping, it is important to establish care with an allergist to discuss what treatment options are best to reduce your allergy symptoms and attacks,” said Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Board Certified Allergist (OAAC) Dr. Laura Chong.

The Allergy Capitals™ ranking is an annual research and educational project of AAFA, designed to help patients recognize, prevent and safely treat allergy symptoms. Through this ranking, AAFA raises awareness about the impact of seasonal allergies and provides helpful information designed to improve the quality of life for people who experience them. The ranking is based on local spring and fall pollen levels, use of allergy medication and the number of board-certified allergists in each metro area. Visit allergycapitals.com to see the full list, study methodology and learn more about allergy diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

To see the complete, 100-city list go to allergycapitals.com. The report lists overall annual rankings and breaks down a seasonal ranking for spring and fall.