Allergy season: Worst U.S. cities for allergies, Louisville, Kentucky number one

Allergy season is upon us and many want to know just how worried they should be. The 12th annual "Spring Allergy Capitals" report was released Monday by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and bad new Kentucky residents, you're in for a doozy.

Louisville, which has topped the heap for the third time in the report's history (it was ranked fifth last year), is followed by Memphis, Tenn. and Baton Rouge, La.

"We should point out that even Colorado Springs, Colorado, which came in last at 100, is considered bad for allergies," Mike Tringale, senior vice president of external affairs for AAFA, told Reuters Health.

Nearly 45 million Americans have allergies, together accounting for more than 17 million outpatient office visits a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Yet "even in the throes of what feels like a 2014 Ice Age, millions of Americans have begun showing up in doctors' offices with the tell-tale signs of allergies," the AAFA said in a press release. The combination of spring and winter weather, also known as "Spwinter" to the AAFA, creates more mold and pollen, which exacerbates allergies.

The factors that go into the rankings are the area's pollen score -- which reflects pollen and mold spore levels, allergy medicine utilization and the number of board-certified allergists.

The South and Southwest usually top the list of the AAFA's Spring Allergy report, as it did this year. Agency officials note that tree pollens are highest in the spring and that's why those areas rank supreme.

"Getting tested is invaluable in order to develop an individualized 'allergy action plan' and to help prevent and reduce seasonal allergies," added Dr. Clifford Bassett, assistant clinical professor at NYU's School of Medicine and an ambassador for AAFA.

The top 10 worst cities for spring allergies in 2014 are:

1. Louisville, Kentucky

2. Memphis, Tennessee

3. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

4. Oklahoma City

5. Jackson, Mississippi

6. Chattanooga, Tennessee

7. Dallas

8. Richmond, Virginia

9. Birmingham, Alabama

10. McAllen, Texas

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