If you live in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jackson, Mississippi or Wichita, Kansas and lately you’ve found yourself knocking back Benadryl like it’s water due to sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose, there’s a good reason. Your city just scored at the top of The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) list of the top 100 Worst American cities to live in. The annual report is based on three factors: higher pollen counts, higher use of prescription and over-the-counter allergy medication, and a lower number of allergy specialists working in a particular city.

Top 100 Worst Allergy Cities

Top 10 

1. Wichita, Kan.

2. Jackson, Miss.

3. Knoxville, Tenn.

4. Louisville, Ky.

5. Memphis, Tenn.

6. McAllen, Texas

7. Baton Rouge, La.

8. Dayton, Ohio

9. Chattanooga, Tenn.

10. Oklahoma City, Okla.

If you happen to live in one of the cities included in this list, the bad news is things are about to get worse this fall. The good news? At least you’ve been warned so you can do something about it. The AAFA is currently reporting that a “perfect storm” is brewing for allergy sufferers.  Predictions for a sneezy season are based on the following:

  • Rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels could be extending ragweed season
  • Pollen from weeds is a greater problem in the fall, particularly in major urban areas and locations with significant construction
  • High winds from tornadoes and hurricanes can cause increases in pollen distribution, leading to an increase in allergy symptoms
  • Outdoor mold resulting from previous storms, including Superstorm Sandy, continues to grow and could be spread further by fall weather and wind patterns

According to the AAFA, over 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, some for more of an extended period than others. Patients often confuse their symptoms for the common cold or even the flu. The AAFA clarifies that the presence of fever is key. Seasonal allergies may cause a whole host of uncomfortable symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, stuffy noses, runny  noses and sore throat but they are typically not accompanied by fever.

It’s important to visit a physician or even an allergist to try and define what you’re allergic to so you can treat the symptoms appropriately and eliminate items from your home if you can. For some, banishing  pesky dust mites can offer relief. Washing sheets regularly with warm water and covering pillow cases and mattresses with hypoallergenic covers can also be helpful.

While pharmacies and retail stores offer up an entire aisle dedicated to allergy relief medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns people to read the labels before taking so they’re well aware of the side effects. Some cause marked drowsiness and others, especially those with pseudoephedrine can cause an elevated heart rate. As with any medication, talk to your doctor to determine the right product for you.

Tired of dealing with allergies? If you have the means, pack up the family and move to Honolulu, Hawaii. It was recently declared the, “Ultimate Happy/Healthy Place.” Aloha!