Health & Fitness

Only one city tops Wichita for allergies

Any other time, being No. 2 among the 100 largest metro areas would probably be reason to celebrate.

This No. 2 ranking seems more like a reason to pray.

For an early, hard freeze.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has released its list of 100 fall allergy capitals, and Wichita is No. 2, behind McAllen, Texas. Also in the top five, in order: Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City and Jackson, Miss.

The organization said Wichita moved up from No. 8 a year ago.

The rankings are based on pollen scores, the number of prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications used per patient, and the number of allergy specialists per patient.

The ranking came as no surprise to two of those specialists, who say Wichita's relatively dry weather, flat location and wind make it a horrid spot for allergy sufferers.

"It's clear that people suffer from allergies quite a bit here," said Chrishana Ogilvie-McDaniel of Wichita Clinic.

Look around at the ragweed growing in ditches, at the edge of fields and in vacant lots this time of year, and it's no wonder so many of us are sneezing, said Van Strickland, who also specializes in caring for patients with allergies.

The allergy foundation gave Wichita "worse than average" rankings for its pollen score and number of allergy medications per patient, and an average for number of allergy specialists. McAllen scored worse than average in all three areas.

At the bottom of the list was Portland, Ore.

Ragweed is the biggest cause of problems for those with seasonal allergies, and the ragweed season usually begins around Labor Day and continues until a freeze puts an end to it.

That means relief is not too far away: The average date of the first killing frost is Oct. 28.