AAFA: Providence worst place to live in Northeast for spring allergies

SPRING ALLERGIES are a routine hassle for many, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has placed Providence at the top of the list of the worst cities in the Northeast for such problems. / COURTESY ASTHMA AND ALLERGY FOUNDATION OF AMERICA

PROVIDENCE – The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has named Providence No. 3 among the 100 most challenging places to live with spring allergies in the United States in its annual Spring Allergy Capitals report, and the worst in the Northeast.

According to the 2019 report, Providence ranked worse than average on pollen count, medicine utilization and the number of board-certified allergists per patient. The ranking was based on an assessment of cities according to each of the three factors.

For each factor, AAFA used the most recently available 12-month data. Total scores are calculated as a composite of all three factors.

Seasonal pollen score: AAFA obtained a comprehensive index of the population at risk of being affected by airborne allergenic pollen, derived from actual pollen counts, allergy prevalence for each pollen type and related factors for the most recent spring allergy season (spring 2018).

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Medication use: AAFA obtained the number of allergy-medication prescriptions per patient prevalence for the most recent spring allergy season. The count includes over-the-counter and behind-the-counter allergy medication sales at the pharmacy counter.

Number of allergy specialists: For each city, AAFA obtained the number of board-certified allergists/immunologists per patient prevalence.

For the analysis, the AAFA used data from the Specialists Database of the American Board of Medical Specialties; IQVIA Allergy Activity Notification Program Database; IQVIA Medication Database; and U.S. Department of Commerce and Bureau of the Census metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas.

The next four worst cities in the Northeast following Providence were Springfield, Mass., Scranton, Pa., Syracuse, N.Y., and Buffalo, N.Y.

McAllen, Texas, is the most challenging U.S. city for people with spring allergies, based on higher-than-average pollen scores, higher-than-average medication usage and availability of board-certified allergists in the area.

“AAFA’s Spring Allergy Capitals report is a valuable tool to help identify cities where seasonal allergy symptoms can create challenges,” said Dr. Mitchell Grayson, chair of the foundation’s Medical Scientific Council. “This report helps people in these areas be more aware of what may contribute to their allergy symptoms, so they can work with their health care providers to get relief. With the right treatment plan, seasonal allergies can be managed for better quality of life.”

Spring allergy season begins with pollen released by trees, then grass later in spring, but you can use smartphone apps to keep track of pollen counts in your area.

On days that pollen is high for the trees or grass you are allergic to, AAFA recommends the following actions to reduce pollen exposure:

  • Limit outdoor activities
  • Keep windows closed
  • Use central air conditioning with high-efficiency particulate air filtration
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors
  • Wear a hat to cover your hair
  • Take a shower and shampoo hair before going to bed
  • Change and wash clothes after outdoor activities
  • Dry laundry in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line
  • Limit contact with pets that spend time outdoors
  • Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home
  • Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week
  • Use a nasal rinse to flush out inhaled pollen
  • Use a certified asthma- and allergy-friendly air cleaner (portable or whole house) or heating, ventilation, air conditioning air filter

There are also options available to prevent or treat allergy symptoms:

  • Allergy medicines – some work best if taken before allergy season begins
  • Immunotherapy – shots or tablets available as a long-term treatment. It can help prevent or reduce the severity of reactions

Rob Borkowski is a PBN contributing writer.