Dayton moves up list of worst cities for allergies

High pollen counts across the country mean this spring could be one of the worst allergy seasons in decades and that means trouble for Dayton-area suffers, doctors said.

The Dayton area, which is typically ranked among the worst for allergy sufferers each spring, moved up the list this year, based primarily on higher-than-average pollen counts, according to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

The AAFA’s annual list of “allergy capitals” ranked Dayton No. 8 this year, up from No. 11 last season. Jackson, Miss. topped the list of worst places to live with spring allergies, while sunny San Diego, Calif. ranked as the best place to live for allergy sufferers.

“Business has certainly picked up,” said Dr. Joseph Allen, a family doctor in Vandalia. “We’re seeing a lot of allergy. Every year it seems to be a little bit worse.”

The allergy season in Dayton is typically more severe than in other cities because the area has a high concentration of plants and trees that bloom simultaneously, leaving yards and sidewalks littered with pollen that triggers sniffles and sneezes, Allen explained.

In addition, the area is known for having high concentrations of mold and spores that also cause allergy symptoms, such as sinus headaches, irritated eyes, sneezing, coughing and congestion.

A long, cold winter delayed blooming for many plants and flowers this year, creating a perfect storm for allergies.

“We didn’t have much of a spring,” Allen said. “It was wet and cold for a long time, and when the weather did turn, everything decided to come out at once, and we got hit with a lot of pollen this year.”

In addition to increased health costs, the allergy season typically means widespread absenteeism from work or school.

Seasonal allergies result in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year, costing more than $700 million in total lost productivity, the National Academy on an Aging Society estimates.

Overall, the annual cost of allergies, including doctor visits and medication, is nearly $14.5 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But that doesn’t include the indirect cost of allergy, such as diminished productivity from employees who are present at work but distracted by their symptoms or feeling drowsy after taking over-the-counter medicines.

A recent study projected that the use of sedating antihistamines by workers could result in a 25 percent reduction in productivity for two weeks per year and a cost U. S. corporations as much as $2.8 billion per year.

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