Dallas scores worse than San Antonio for allergy sufferers

San Antonio may be a perennial pollen producer, but this year it’s not even in the top five worst cities in the U.S. for allergies, according to a recent report. In fact, it wasn’t even in the top 20.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has released its top 20 “Allergy Capitals” for 2023, just in time for the first day of spring, which officially begins Monday. Texas’ two largest cities — Dallas and Houston — had the dubious honor of making the list, with Dallas ranked the second worst city nationally for allergy sufferers. Houston was in 12th place.

The foundation looked at the 100 largest cities in the continental United States and scored them based on five factors: the number of pollens from trees, grass and weeds; use of over-the-counter allergy medications; and the number of allergy specialists in the city. The factors are not weighted equally.

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The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America looked at the 100 largest cities in the continental United States and scored them based on five factors: pollen counts from trees, grass, and weeds; use of over-the-counter allergy medications; and the number of allergy specialists in the city. It also ranked the cities by pollen type. Below are the top and bottom five overall and pollen rankings of Texas cities for 2023.

Top 5 worst cities in the US

1. Wichita, Kan.

2. Dallas

3. Scranton, Dad.

4. Oklahoma city

5. Tussa, Oklahoma.

Bottom 5 US cities

96. Akron, Ohio

97. Austin

98. Cleveland

99. Seattle

100. Buffalo, NY

Grass pollen ranking

4. Dallas

10. Houston

11. McAllen

17. Saint Anthony

42. Step

71. Austin

Tree pollen ranking

2. Dallas

12. Houston

21. Saint Anthony

29. McAllen

54. Step

99. Austin

Ranking of weed pollen

26. Dallas

27. Step

59. Houston

80. McAllen

96. Saint Anthony

99. Austin

McAllen was the third worst city in Texas, coming in at number 25. Along with Dallas and Houston, it received a “worse than average” ranking.
San Antonio, on the other hand, didn’t even deserve that accolade — coming in at number 37 earned it an “average” status. El Paso came in just behind the Alamo City at number 39 and also received the average designation.
Austin was the only city in Texas to achieve a better-than-average ranking, coming in at No. 97.
So which city was the worst? Wichita, Kan., deserved that award. As for the city with the lowest score, that’s Buffalo, NY
Although Florida’s worst city, Sarasota, missed out on the top five by coming in at No. 6, the state made seven of the top 20 spots. The report pointed out that the “burden of seasonal pollen allergies” is greater for cities in the southern and eastern regions.

The foundation also provided rankings based on pollen types, looking at individual pollen types, use of allergy medications, and access to allergy specialists. San Antonio finished 17th in the report’s rankings for grass pollen, 21st for tree pollen and 96th for weed pollen.
The foundation has been preparing its annual “Allergy Capital” reports since 2003.
A Washington Post article citing the study said the foundation’s data over the past decade shows that San Antonio and McAllen regularly rank among the highest pollen counts in the country. Other cities producing consistently high pollen scores during that period include this year’s No. 1 Wichita; Oklahoma City, which came in at No. 4 this year; and Richmond, Virginia, which ranked just above McAllen at No. 23.
Climate change is causing allergy season to start earlier, last longer and be more intense, according to an analysis by the nonprofit organization Climate Central.
“We’ve had a slew of patients come in with significant nasal and eye symptoms for allergies,” said Dr. Sanjiv Sur, a professor of medicine in the section of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine.

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Pollen counts can be a valuable resource for someone who wants to avoid being exposed to whatever triggers their allergy symptoms, said Dr. Albert Wu, an allergist at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.
“Avoidance is very helpful,” he said. “One way to do that is to monitor the pollen count and avoid the things you’re allergic to.”

Wu and Sur also recommend keeping track of what time of year you usually have allergy symptoms. You can prevent or limit symptoms by starting to take allergy medication a few weeks before, they said.
If you’re having a flare-up, over-the-counter medications like nasal sprays and antihistamines can help reduce symptoms. Decongestants are also helpful, although anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid using a decongestant.

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As for the recent bout of rainy weather, it may not be all good news for allergy sufferers.
While rain can reduce pollen counts, it can have a detrimental effect on symptoms, Sur said. Rain can break pollen into smaller particles, and that makes it easier for them to enter the lungs and other areas, he said.
“We view rain as a good thing,” Sur said. “Well, there’s a downside where it can’t be such a good thing.”
So what is the outlook for allergy sufferers in San Antonio?
The Weather Channel’s 15-Day Allergy Forecast predicts a moderate risk of developing allergy symptoms, albeit with high levels of tree and grass pollen at the start of the week.
AccuWeather’s forecast predicts high levels of tree pollen Tuesday through Friday. It recommends that allergy sufferers keep doors and windows closed, change and shower after coming in, and take allergy medication if possible.

Staff writer Evan MacDonald contributed to this story.

Dallas scores worse than San Antonio for allergy sufferers

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