Knoxville Tops List of Worst Cities For Allergy Sufferers

Call them the lands of sneezing and sniffling. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America just released its list of 2012 Spring Allergy Capitals, rankings of cities based on pollen count, allergy medicine usage, and number of allergists per patient. Here’s a look at the 10 most miserable cities for spring allergy sufferers.

1. Overall score: 100 – Knoxville, TN

This eastern Tennessee city is chock-full of pollen, and earned a “perfect” score of 100. Residents are likely to be on allergy medications, like antihistamines, corticosteroids, and non-steroidal medications.

2. Overall score: 96.71 – McAllen Texas

The allergy outlook is bleak for McAllen, which jumped from 9th to 2nd place in this year’s standings. The city is often hot and humid during springtime, which can boost pollen levels.

3. Overall score: 96.71 – Louisville, KY

The allergy outlook is bleak for McAllen, which jumped from 9th to 2nd place in this year’s standings. The city is often hot and humid during springtime, which can boost pollen levels.

4. Overall score: 92.85 – Jackson, Miss.

Home to forests, prairies, and croplands, Jackson residents are bound to be on allergy medications.

5, Overall score: 91.36 – Wichita, Kan.

Allergy sufferers beware: Strong winds blow pollen across the plains. After ranking 13th last year, Wichita landed back in the top 10.

These are followed by: Oklahoma City, OK with a pollen score of 90.57; Chattanooga, TN, with a score of 89.63; Memphis, TN, with a score of 85.19; San Antonio, TX with a score of 84.41, and Dayton, OH with a score of 82.15.

But, don’t think you are safe from the pollen outdoors. Allergy sufferers can be hit just as hard from the inside. HealthDay News reports that those airborne fragrances can  trigger allergy symptoms — from runny, itchy noses and sneezing to asthma attacks.

“We’re seeing more patients with the problem,” said Dr. Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “I’ve seen patients who say, ‘I go into somebody’s house who has one of these air fresheners and I just can’t stay there. I have increasing nasal symptoms, sneezing and coughing.’ There is no allergy skin test for air fresheners, but people can definitely have a physiologic response to it.”

Often a co-worker will plug-in a room deodorizer at work, causing others in nearby cubicles to start sneezing and coughing. It smells good to them, so they don’t believe someone could be bothered by it, says Dr. J. Allen Meadows, an allergist in Montgomery, Alabama.

Meadows said. “I have some of the same sensations myself. If the odor of the fume smells like a food, like cinnamon apple, I don’t have a problem with it. But if it smells like a flower, I have to escape.”

Meadows’ staff warns him about heavily perfumed patients so he can use a nasal antihistamine to control his symptoms before he goes into the exam room.

According to a study done in 2009 and published in the Journal of Environmental Health, about 11 percent of more than 2,000 adults surveyed reported hypersensitivity to common laundry products. About 31 percent reported having an “adverse reaction” to scented products on other people, and about 19 percent reported having breathing difficulties, headaches or other health problems when exposed to air fresheners. Rates were higher among people with asthma.

According to Dr. Fineman, “Scented candles and air fresheners emit VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which are chemicals that form a gas or vapor at room temperature. The VOCs present in air fresheners often include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, alcohol and esters.

High concentrations of VOCs can trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment.

But Gretchen Schaefer, vice president of communications for the Consumer Specialty Products Association, an industry group, said that VOCs aren’t necessarily harmful.

“Anything that emits a scent — flowers or the scent of pine if you walk through a forest or your Christmas tree — is emitting a VOC,” she said.

In the United States, air fresheners are subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, which requires that manufacturers inform consumers of risks and ingredients that could contribute to that risk. But some experts say the requirements aren’t stringent enough.

“The Federal Hazardous Substance Act requires that the manufacturer put the proper-use information on the label,” Schaefer said. “These products are safe if you use them according to the label instructions.”

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Scources: Yahoo Health and HealthDay News | 
Submitted by Nancy Morris

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