Ranking names Richmond as one of the worst cities for allergy sufferers

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Seasonal allergies can be tough to deal with and experts say your location may play a role in the severity. For these reasons, experts are warning that Richmond is one of the worst places in the U.S. for seasonal allergies.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) named Richmond one of this year’s “Allergy Capitals,” meaning it’s one of the most challenging places to live with seasonal pollen allergies.

The full report ranks the 100 most-populated U.S. metropolitan areas. Richmond is currently sitting in the 23rd spot.

According to AAFA, the report looked at the following factors:

  • Pollen scores from trees, grass and weeds
  • Over-the-counter allergy medicine use
  • Availability of board-certified allergists/immunologists

“Historically, we have always been fairly challenging with high volumes of pollen,” said Dr. Melissa Aquilo, with Patient First.

Aquilo told 8News she has suffered from seasonal allergies since she was a little girl, experiencing a number of the most common symptoms — such as sneezing, runny noses and itchy or watery eyes.

Dr. Darshana Alle, with AllerVie Health, said that summer is often a high-pollen season. She’s seen twice as many allergy patients this summer than normal and expects it to go up even more in the next few weeks because the fall is ragweed season.

“I think Richmond’s underlying location– with the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean– has definitely congregated with the increase in humidity,” Alle said. “I don’t think patients have much of a chance in terms of getting away from that.”

According to Alle, the milder winters can make plants produce pollen sooner and extend their season. Pollen season often won’t slow down until we reach freezing temperatures. However, if you take some precautions, you won’t have to hide indoors.

“Our patients that enjoy spending time outdoors– which is a lot of people– wearing protective gear, masks, goggles if they’re doing yard work or cutting the grass is something quick and easy they could do,” she said.

Aquilo had some tips of her own for Richmond residents to avoid the common symptoms as much as possible. She recommends closing your windows and using the air conditioning when possible.

Aquilo also recommends changing your clothes after spending time outside and taking allergy medicine — specifically antihistamines and nasal sprays — consistently as opposed to sporadically. Keeping outdoor pets out of bed can also help reduce pollen exposure.

“Less allergen exposure means less allergy symptoms,” Aquilo said.

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