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States With the Worst Allergies

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Last Updated

Struggling with sneezing and itchiness? You’re not alone, especially if you’re in states like Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. These are the worst states for allergies, linking factors such as high pollen counts, climate change, and regional vegetation to increased rates of allergic symptoms.

Allergies are typically worse in states in the northeastern quadrant of the United States, such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as in the Midwest in Kansas and Ohio, and also in some southern states, including Texas and Oklahoma. 

What Causes Eye Allergies?

Eye allergies, which are called allergic conjunctivitis, occur when the tissue lining the outside of the eyeball and the eyelid becomes inflamed in response to outdoor or indoor allergens. These can be seasonal or perennial (year-round) allergies. 

Seasonal conjunctivitis typically occurs from spring through fall in climates with high pollen counts, mold, grass, or ragweed. Perennial conjunctivitis can be a reaction to pet dander or dust mites. 

Eye allergies can cause the following symptoms:

  • Red eyes
  • Eye irritation and swelling
  • Itchiness and burning
  • Feeling like you have something in your eye
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Runny nose and sneezing, coughing, and itching 

States With High Levels of Allergens

These 10 states have some of the highest levels of allergens, resulting in some of the worst allergies for their residents and visitors.


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released the 2022 Allergy Capitals of the United States and lists Scranton, Pennsylvania, as number one. Seasonal allergies are often high through the spring, summer, and fall months due to high pollen counts. Scranton, Pennsylvania was found to have both high spring and fall pollen counts that were above average. 

In the spring, tree pollen starts, which activates seasonal allergies. This can transition into grass pollen in the summer and weed (particularly ragweed) pollen in the fall months. 

In the winter in Pennsylvania, dust mites can trigger perennial allergies. Wet, late winters and early springs have led to high levels of tree pollen in early spring as of late, which then moves to lush, green lawns and high amounts of grass pollen in Pennsylvania, impacting allergy sufferers. 


In Texas, the allergy season can last 10 out of the 12 months of the year. This can be partly attributed to climate change that has led to warmer temperatures and a longer growing season as well as air pollution. Pollutants can make pollen grains more allergenic by changing their structure. 

From February to April, tree pollen impacts seasonal allergies, which then moves on to grass pollen in April through June. The only real “break” in the allergy season in many parts of Texas are the 100-degree days in July and August. 

In the winter, mountain cedar pollen counts are high. Part of the reason for nearly year-round allergies in Texas is related to the fact that there are very few, if any, periods of freezing. This allows the trees to continue to pollinate, even in the winter. The temperate climate can increase pollen counts and make allergies worse.


Virginia has a beautiful and diverse plant and nature life, which also unfortunately means worse allergies and high pollen counts. In the spring, tree pollen counts are high.

In the summer, seasonal allergies are mostly related to grass pollen. Weeds produce pollen in the fall that can continue up until winter. During the winter months, indoor allergens, such as mold, dust, and pet dander, can be an issue for people with allergies. 

Virginia’s cold winters mean that seasonal allergy season usually starts around February when things start to warm up, but due to the abundant plant life in the region, pollen counts can be exceptionally high, leading to intense allergies. Allergies and allergy season in Virginia appears to be getting worse recently as well, starting earlier and lasting longer than in years past.


In Oklahoma, allergy season is also being prolonged in recent years, which is largely attributed to climate change. Winters are getting shorter, precipitation is increasing, and spring is starting sooner, which means plants and trees are pollinating for more months out of the year. 

In Oklahoma, cedar, ragweed, crabgrass, oak, mulberry, and hackberry are some of the worst seasonal allergy offenders. 

Oklahoma is typically dry and windy, allowing pollen to remain in the air. Pollen can actually travel hundreds of miles on the wind, so some of the pollen that impacts people with allergies in Oklahoma can be traveling from the neighboring state of Texas. Oklahoma is also prone to occasional violent thunderstorms that can kick up pollen and spread it around the air.


Kansas is one of the worst states to live in for people with allergies due to its high pollen counts and also the high pollen counts in nearby states like Oklahoma and Texas. Pollen from neighboring states can migrate into the area, causing worsening seasonal allergies. 

Climate change also impacts the area with a longer growing season and warmer climates that can create more carbon dioxide in the air. This contributes to higher-than-average pollen counts. 

Tree pollen has increased in the Kansas City area as well, and this is most commonly related to oak, juniper, and mulberry trees. Ragweed, grass, and mold also impact allergies in Kansas.


In Massachusetts, the typical seasonal allergy season runs from spring through fall with tree pollen being the culprit in the spring, grass in the summer, and weeds in the fall. The freeze and cold snap in the winters often give seasonal allergy sufferers a break in these colder months, but even when the trees are still bare in the New England area in late winter and early spring, pollen can still be in the air

This is due to pollen blowing in and migrating from warmer climates in surrounding areas, including Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Spring allergies often start earlier in these areas. It can also impact people in Massachusetts who have seasonal allergies even before trees in the area begin to produce pollen.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island, and specifically Providence, Rhode Island, is listed as one of the top 10 worst places to live when you have seasonal spring allergies. Spring allergy season in Rhode Island typically peaks in mid-April when pollen counts are the highest. 

In addition to high pollen counts, Rhode Island also has a lot of vegetation that releases spores into the air in the spring. 

Pollen can continue to be released from trees in Rhode Island through June. Allergy season can extend through the fall months as well. Allergy season can also begin earlier in Rhode Island, as in before the native trees start releasing pollen, due to winds blowing in pollen from other parts of New England that begin producing pollen sooner. 


Connecticut had three of the top 10 worst cities to live for seasonal spring allergies in 2022, including New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford. This is partially related to high pollen counts in the area, commonly from ragweed and outdoor mold. Just like in other parts of the country, climate change has impacted the allergy season in Connecticut, extending and worsening pollen counts and seasonal allergies.

Tree pollen usually impacts seasonal allergies in March and April, and grass pollen is an issue from May through July in Connecticut. Mold spores can cause allergies year-round, as they can grow both indoors and outdoors, particularly in dark and damp locations, such as basements.

New York 

Allergy season in New York is typically worst during the first week of May, but it can begin as early as late February and extend through the fall. In the spring, tree pollen is the culprit, while in the summer months, it is grass pollen. Ragweed is the issue from late summer through the fall. 

Early May is usually so bad in New York because tree pollen is still around and grass pollen is just beginning, so both are in the air.

The growing season has gotten longer due to climate change and global warming, which means that allergy season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and getting worse in New York and beyond.


Some of the most common allergens in Ohio are tree and grass pollens related to maple, oak, cedar, mulberry, grasses, box elder, and polar. Seasonal allergy season from these common sources of pollen usually runs from late March through late July. 

Many Ohio cities rank in the top 50 for worst places to live with seasonal allergies due to the temperate climate, latitude, and number of pollen-bearing trees in the area. Pollen in Ohio is also airborne and can travel for miles, even from other states and nearby areas.


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  2. What Are Eye Allergies? (January 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  3. 2022 Allergy Capitals. (2022). Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
  4. Why Are the Allergies So Bad? Rain Leads to Green Yards and a Lot of Pollen. (May 2019). Pennsylvania Real-Time News.
  5. Why Are Allergies So Bad in Texas? (April 2022). CBS News DFW.
  6. UVA Health Warns of Severe Allergy Season. (March 2022). NBC 29.
  7. Oklahoma Is Already a Tough Place for Allergy Sufferers. Climate Change Could Make That Worse. (April 2022). The Oklahoman.
  8. Kansas Is One of the Top States for Allergy Sufferers. (March 2022). KSN.
  9. You’re Not the Only One Who’s Sniffly. Kansas City Is Hitting Peak Fall Allergy Season. (September 2022). The Kansas City Star.
  10. It’s the Time of Year New England Allergy Sufferers Dread. Here Are Tips to Help You Prepare for Spring. (April 2022). WBUR.
  11. Is It Allergies or COVID? What You Need to Know as Allergy Season Approaches. (March 2021). WPRI.
  12. Three Connecticut Cities Ranked Among Worst for Spring Allergies in New National Report. (March 2022). Hartford Healthcare.
  13. Allergist Explains Why Pollen Levels Are So High and How to Find Relief. (May 2021). ABC 7 NY.
  14. Allergist Explains Why Several Ohio Cities Rank High for Spring Allergies. (April 2019). 10 WBNS.
  15. Pollen Overload: Seasonal Allergies in a Changing Climate. (April 2016). Environmental Health Perspectives.
  16. Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year—Why and What You Can Do About It. (May 2021). Yale Medicine.
  17. No, You’re Not Imagining It: Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year. (June 2022). BU Today.
  18. Can Relocating Help Allergy Sufferers? (September 2020). American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
  19. Temperature-Related Changes in Airborne Allergenic Pollen Abundance and Seasonality Across the Northern Hemisphere: A Retrospective Data Analysis. (March 2019). The Lancet.

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