Fall allergies: What you need to know

Allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Each year in the U.S., allergic reactions account for more than 17 million trips to the doctor, 30,000 emergency room visits, and several hundred deaths, according to a new report. And the report suggests things are getting worse, with sensitivity to mold and ragweed on the rise. And while allergies are prevalent across the nation - affecting one in five of us - they pose a bigger problem in some cities more than others. The report, from Quest Diagnostics, looked at the proportion of citizens showing sensitivity to food, ragweed, mold, dust mites, and cats and dogs in 30 U.S. cities. Keep reading to learn the 12 cities where allergies are most troublesome. Are you living in one of the "dirty dozen?"
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(CBS News) Some experts say 2012 will be a worse than normal fall season for allergies.

Why? The unusually warm summer gave a jump start to ragweed pollen, the primary fall allergy trigger. And the pollen may hang around longer, too.

Forty million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Symptoms can include a stuffy nose, red, itchy eyes, sneezing, and a hoarse, scratchy throat.

How much misery you're in may depend on where you live. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation just released their list of the worst fall allergy cities. Louisville, Ky. tops the list with Witchita, Kan., and Knoxville, Tenn., close behind.

But no matter where you live, there are some steps you can take to ease your symptoms. Over-the-counter medications work for some people, but others may need to see a doctor for allergy shots. Keep your home as dust free as possible. Stay indoors at peak pollen times (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Clean your home's heating ducts and use a high-efficiency filter.

And if all else fails, we can always count on winter's frost to clear the air.

Watch Dr. Holly Phillips' report in the video above.