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Oklahoma City and Tulsa among worst allergy cities in America

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

The “Allergy Capitals” is an annual research project of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to identify the 100 most challenging places to live with allergies in the spring and fall seasons.

The recently released study showed that Oklahoma is one of the worst states in the country for fall allergies with its two major cities named in the top ten. Oklahoma City came in as the fifth worst city while Tulsa ranked tenth worst city.

The rankings use three scientific factors to analyze the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. The data measured and compared includes pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient and number of allergy specialists per patient.

According to the report, the worst places to live for fall allergies are Knoxville, TN, Dayton, OH, McAllen, TX, and Jackson, MS followed by Oklahoma City.
The best places to avoid allergies are Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and San Diego, CA.

As one of the most advanced allergy and asthma centers in the United States, the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic is dedicated solely to the diagnosis and management of allergies, asthma and other allergic disorders.
“Capable of flying hundreds of miles, ragweed pollen is sending allergy patients fleeing to their doctors for more aggressive treatment,” said Dr. Greg Metz with the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic. “It’s really starting to pick up over the last month. That’s one of the reasons people have had this surge of symptoms.”

Although, most allergy symptoms can be controlled with an over-the-counter antihistamine, it is often suggested to vacuum often, keep windows and doors closed, and avoid pets with feathers or fur.

Nearly 40 million Americans have nasal allergies and over 10 million have allergic asthma. For these millions of adults and children, the next few months will push many indoors to avoid wind-swept allergens. They will attempt to escape the chronic symptoms of fall allergies, runny nose, congestion, itchy watery eyes, violent sneezing, and the coughing and wheezing suffered by people who have allergic asthma.

Allergic reactions often include hay fever, asthma, eczema, hives and a variety of other serious allergic conditions. Recurring sinus infections are also often attributed to allergies.
Dr. Dean Atkinson, an allergist with the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic, said allergies are worse in Oklahoma because of a longer warm season. “Generally, the further south you move, the higher the pollen count,” Atkinson said.

The average American is spending 60% or more of their his or her time indoors. Experts are cautioning that indoor air can be worse than outdoor air. Studies show that things like candles, printers, and even shoes can fill your rooms with harmful contaminants.

Household triggers like mold growing in areas with high moisture, volatile organic compounds in wood furniture, flooring and traditional paints, or strong chemical odors from some cleaning products are common problems.

“Mold is a year-round problem. And while many people might think staying inside will help their allergies, people inside are more exposed to molds, dust mites and pet dander,” said Atkinson.

One way to reduce airborne allergens in the home is through the use of an air purifier, which captures microscopic airborne allergens, including pollen and mold spores.
Dr. Shahan Stutes, also with the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic said, “Most allergy sufferers can blame their parents for their symptoms. We don’t really know what causes people to develop allergies to pollen, but there seems to be a strong genetic link. For example, if one parent has an allergic disease, each child has a 50% chance of developing one of the allergic diseases. If both parents have allergic diseases, than each child has up to a 70% chance of developing allergies.”

This year’s extreme drought has caused plants to spread more pollen to improve their chances of reproduction causing allergies to likely be worse than usual in the coming months.

Craig McKinley, state extension forestry specialist at Oklahoma State University said, “Get ready, more plant allergies can be expected from November through March.”

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