Today is the vernal equinox – otherwise known as the official end of winter and the start of spring. But even if you didn't look at your calendar today, chances are your nose already figured it out. That's because more than 40 million Americans have nasal allergies (also called, allergic rhinitis or "hay fever"). Springtime allergy triggers – primarily tree pollen – cause symptoms including itchy runny nose, nasal and sinus congestion, repeated sneezing, watery eyes, inflamed sinuses and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing due to all of these symptoms. Nasal allergy symptoms can be even more problematic if you also have asthma.
Today the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) announced its 2012 Spring Allergy Capitals™ rankings with Knoxville, Tennessee, topping the list again, for the 3rd consecutive year. The annual report, which identifies the 100 "most challenging" U.S. cities to live in with spring allergies, is based on a scientific analysis of three factors including pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient and number of board certified allergists per patient. See the full 2012 rankings at www.AllergyCapitals.com.
The Spring Allergy Capitals ranking is part of the Foundation's multi-year and multi-season campaign to help patients and consumers recognize, prevent and safely manage allergy symptoms.
The Top 10 Spring Allergy Capitals this year are:
AAFA is working with Water Pik to promote this year's report to educate Americans about nasal and sinus health. "Unfortunately, the number of children and adults who have nasal allergies continues to grow every year," said Mike Tringale, Vice President of External Affairs at AAFA. "And the symptom that patients say is most bothersome is the nasal and sinus congestion that these allergies cause." But the Foundation is quick to remind patients that, no matter what city they live in, there are easy and effective steps to help manage and relieve symptoms of spring allergies.
"Spring is when trees do their pollinating, so every spring I see a large increase in the number of patients that are complaining of allergy-related symptoms – sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and congestion," said Dr. Rohit Katial, Program Director of Allergy and Immunology at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. "The good news is there are many options to prevent and relieve sinus and allergy symptoms. I recommend a daily sinus wash to my patients because it provides a natural, easy and effective option to prevent and soothe nasal irritation." If you suffer from allergies, AAFA offers the following tips:
- Relieve your symptoms: Many health plans ask patients to look in the pharmacy first for allergy relief, so talk to your pharmacist about over-the-counter options such as sinus washing, nasal rinsing/irrigation, antihistamines and other options. If symptoms become more frequent or severe, talk to your doctor.
- Prevent pollen from getting indoors: You can reduce the number of outdoor allergens such as pollen and mold from entering the home by keeping windows and doors closed and setting the air conditioner on re-circulate.
- Vacuum once or twice weekly: Vacuuming helps keep indoor allergens to a minimum. If you have allergies, wear a dust mask while doing spring cleaning indoors and, when you use cleaning sprays leave the house for several hours after cleaning to air it out.
- Be smart about timing outdoors: Trees tend to pollinate first thing in the morning making pollen counts in the early hours very high. By noon, pollen counts are less than half than just a few hours earlier. So plan your outdoor activities after lunch or in the evening to avoid the extreme pollen of the morning.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America