Health & Fitness

Wichita No. 2 for allergies

For the second year in a row, Wichita ranks No. 2 on the Allergy Capitals list from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Let's — achoo! —celebrate. The list of 100 cities was released by the foundation Thursday and is based on pollen scores, number of allergy specialists per patient and number of allergy medications used per patient.

The ranking should come as no surprise: Pollen from ragweed and other summer annual weeds has been in the air since mid-August.

Thomas Scott, an allergy and asthma specialist at the Wichita Clinic, said Wichita will make the top 25 on nearly any such list.

"It's flat, dry and windy here, which is a perfect dispersal system" for pollen and other allergens, he said.

Wichita got a "worse than average" for its pollen and medicine use, and average for number of specialists.

Dayton, Ohio, is No. 1 on the list this year; a year ago, Wichita was second to McAllen, Texas, which this year is No. 6.

Louisville, Ky., was No. 3 both years. Knoxville, Tenn., is fourth this year, and Jackson, Miss., is fifth.

Scott said most people with allergies have found ways to cope with them by this point in the season. But if they want to be better armed for next year, now is a good time: Specialists aren't as busy, and it's easier to prevent problems than to treat them.

The possible good news out of all this: Oct. 28 is the average date of the first killing frost in the Wichita area. That's only a few days away.

Once the pollens are gone, symptoms should start fading within a few days, Scott said.

The two possible pieces of bad news:

Even after a killing frost, if we get a warm day with southerly winds, pollen from Texas and Oklahoma will be in our air.

And after a killing frost is about when we start sharing cold viruses in earnest.