Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports that more than 60 million people in America have asthma or allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The problem costs the U.S. economy over $20 billion each year in hospitalizations, medical services, lost productivity at work or school and more.
Experts also estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies because of airborne pollen, which are tiny particles that are released from trees, weeds and grasses. These particles are carried by the wind from tall treetops all the way down to your nose.
Billions of weed pollen particles can travel by wind during the fall season from August to October. In fact, she says, ragweed can generate a billion grains of pollen each season. Senay says the most severe fall allergen is weed pollen. A rainy summer season has also contributed to increased pollen and mold counts around the country.
Fortunately, cold weather is around the corner and may "freeze" outdoor allergens.
Senay says the symptoms are running nose, congestion, cough and sore throat. She notes if you have a fever or muscle aches, you probably have a common cold or flu, not allergies.
The AAFA has recently released a list of 50 places as the Nation's Fall Allergy Capitals. Senay says the list should help allergy suffers who live in a Fall Allergy Capital distinguish an allergy attack to a cold.
The Nation's Fall Allergy Capitals are listed as:
- Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, PA 100.00
- Raleigh-Durham-Fayettville, NC 99.33
- Louisville, KY 98.87
- Austin, TX 97.05
- Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, MI 94.37
- Memphis, TN 93.94
- Oklahoma City, OK 93.77
- Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 93.46
- Kansas City, MO 93.13
- St. Louis, MO 92.65
- Indianapolis, IN 92.47
- Columbus, OH 90.29
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 88.32
- Charlotte, NC 87.83
- San Antonio, TX 87.17
- Birmingham-Tuscaloosa, AL 86.29
- Cincinnati, OH 85.06
- Milwaukee, WI 84.63
- Houston, TX 84.11
- Detroit, MI 83.58
- New Orleans, LA 82.09
- Nashville, TN 78.49
- Phoenix, AZ 74.5
- Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC (Asheville, NC) 73.01
- Pittsburgh, PA 72.42
- Denver, CO 70.68
- Hartford-New Haven, CT 68.64
- Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM 66.79
- Atlanta, GA 66.39
- Chicago, IL 65.02
- Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, NC 64.13
- Las Vegas, NV 63.19
- Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH 62.97
- Jacksonville-Brunswick, FL 62.79
- Salt Lake City, UT 62.21
- Orlando-Daytona-Melbourne, FL 61.88
- Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 61.63
- Philadelphia, PA 60.85
- Boston, MA (Manchester, NH) 58.24
- Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA 57.22
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, FL 56.94
- Baltimore, MD 56.91
- Washington, DC 56.57
- Providence, RI (New Bedford, MA) 54.98
- Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, VA 53.68
- Seattle-Tacoma, WA 53.66
- New York, NY 51.15
- Los Angeles, CA 50.51
- Portland, OR 49.99
- San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 49.73
If you live in one of these cities and have allergies, the AAFA recommends using the following steps to protect yourself:
- Check your city's Allergy Forecast
- Create your own Allergy Action Plan
- Learn how to prevent allergies at work, school and home
At home: Dust to control mites; vacuum often (Wear a mask when doing housework and consider leaving for a few hours after you clean to avoid allergens in the air and use vacuum which has an air filter to capture dust); reduce pet dander; shut out pollen; avoid mold spores
At school: monitor the classroom for plants, pets or other items that may carry allergens.
- Encourage your child to wash his/her hands after playing outside
- Consider your Treatment Options - There are two types of medication for treating allergies: antihistamines and decongestants. Talk to your pharmacist about what might be best to treat your symptoms and follow the instructions on the label. Senay says if one medication doesn't work, try something else and if all fails, there are allergy shots.