Allergy ranking for Cincinnati may be something to sneeze at

CINCINNATI - If you have spring allergies, you might take comfort in a report that rates the top 100 "Spring Allergy Capitals" in the U.S.

Or you might sneeze at it instead.

That's because Cincinnati is far down the list of most challenging places to live with spring allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

Cincinnati is rated 69th, surely to the surprise of the large number of allergy sufferers around here.

That includes Dr. Jonathan Bernstein of the Bernstein Allergy Group.

"Spring tends to be my worst season," Bernstein said.

The annual report ranks eight regional cities with a worse allergy problem: Louisville (5), Dayton (7), Youngstown (27), Toledo (29), Akron (44), Cleveland (47), Columbus (56) and Indianapolis (59).

The report says the rankings are based on scientific analysis of three factors for the 100 largest metro areas:

1) Pollen scores (airborne grass/tree/weed pollen and mold spores)

2) Number of allergy medications used per patient

3) Number of allergy specialists per patient

Cincinnati is rated "better than average" in pollen scores and allergists, and "average" in medications.

"It suggests the ranking is not so high here because we have more allergists and our patients are treated better," Bernstein said. "I don't get too hung up on rankings because there are so many other variables.

"First, we're in a valley and at times we have a high pollen index and poor air quality. Barometric pressure changes and weather changes can contribute to upper respiratory issues in some people. And we have strong tree, grass and ragweed seasons.

"We have years when the pollen count is down. When you have a lot of rain, it washes the pollen out of the air. I'd say it's an ill-conceived methodology," Bernstein said.

The good news, Bernstein said, is he rarely has to advise an allergy sufferer to move out of the Cincinnati area.

As an allergist and an allergy sufferer himself, he offers this advice:

"It's very important to get on a medicine regimen before allergy season begins," Bernstein said. "If someone is having trouble more than six weeks out of the year, it's important to see an allergist and be tested.

See the rankings at

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