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Worst U.S. cities for spring allergies

By Jacque Wilson, CNN
updated 7:28 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
Now that hay fever season has hit, your first instinct might be to pop an antihistamine. It's not a bad one: "If you have allergies, one of the best things you can do is start medications early, even before your symptoms kick in," says Dr. Neeta Ogden, an allergist in New York.<!-- -->
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</br>But, she adds, it's also crucial to make tweaks to your daily routine to avoid whatever sparks your symptoms. Read on for easy, effective ways to keep sniffles at bay 24/7. Now that hay fever season has hit, your first instinct might be to pop an antihistamine. It's not a bad one: "If you have allergies, one of the best things you can do is start medications early, even before your symptoms kick in," says Dr. Neeta Ogden, an allergist in New York.

But, she adds, it's also crucial to make tweaks to your daily routine to avoid whatever sparks your symptoms. Read on for easy, effective ways to keep sniffles at bay 24/7.
HIDE CAPTION
Allergy-proof your day
Keep your windows shut
Check the pollen count
Sport shades
Snack on yogurt
Take a breather
LImit outdoor runs to the afternoon
Kick off your shoes at home
Eat salmon
Keep Fido and Kitty off your bed
Pop a 24-hour allergy pill before bed
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Louisville, Kentucky, tops the list of the worst cities for allergy sufferers
  • Texas and Tennessee both have three cities in the list's top 20
  • The blend of winter and spring weather may make allergies worse

(CNN) -- If you're cursing Mother Nature right now, we understand. The official start of spring was March 20, and yet signs of winter abound.

There's snow on the ground in the North, and the South is being tossed between 40-degree and 70-degree weather like a pingpong ball.

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 Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says.

Fantastic.

Polar vortex may mean miserable allergy season

It may be even worse for allergy sufferers in certain cities across the country. The foundation has released its annual list of the worst places for spring allergies. Topping the list this year are Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

These so-called allergy capitals are ranked based on pollen levels, use of allergy medications and the number of board-certified allergists in the area.

Louisville has moved up the list from No. 5 last year because of higher-than-average pollen counts, high use of allergy medications and too few allergy specialists, according to the foundation.

New York; Columbia, South Carolina; and San Antonio are new to the top 20. Only Los Angeles residents can breathe a sigh of relief; the city fell 39 places from No. 38 last year to No. 77 this year.

Here are the worst cities for spring allergies in 2014:

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

Why, you may ask, would lingering winter weather affect spring allergy season?

Where do allergies come from?

"Allergy and asthma patients already have a chronic sensitivity to things like pollen, mold and other airborne allergens, but they can also be more susceptible to rapid changes in temperature and moisture," Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said in a statement. "A blending of the winter and spring means these patients are at risk of multiple symptoms simultaneously."

And in case you were keeping a close eye on this type of thing, here is last year's list of spring "allergy capitals":

1. Jackson, Mississippi

2. Knoxville, Tennessee

3. Chattanooga, Tennessee

4. McAllen, Texas

5. Louisville, Kentucky

6. Wichita, Kansas

7. Dayton, Ohio

8. Memphis, Tennessee

9. Oklahoma City

10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

10 allergens you've never heard of

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