Got the sniffles? Don't break out the NyQuil just yet.

Flu season may be fast approaching, but unless you have any of the other hallmark flu symptoms (high fever, chills, aches, etc.) you're probably just one of the 40 million Americans plagued by hay fever—also known as seasonal allergies.

More often associated with springtime, seasonal allergies can be just as potent during the autumn months. No matter when they strike, the symptoms are the same: nasal congestion, watery eyes, runny nose and irritated sinuses.

Hay fever is mainly caused by pollen from ragweed plants, which are found in large numbers in the Eastern and Midwestern areas of the country.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) just released their annual list of the top 100 cities plagued by problems with fall allergies. Coincidentally, the areas that ranked highest included several popular mid-western metros:

  1. Louisville, KY
  2. Wichita, KS
  3. Knoxville, TN

What were the least troublesome cities for autumn allergies?

98. Stockton, CA

99. Portland, OR

100. Sacramento, CA.

The rankings were based not only on a region's pollen prevalence, but also the ratio of allergy specialists to allergy suffers as well as the frequency of allergy medication usage in the area.

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Handling hay fever in your home

Experts caution that allergies can be bad, no matter where you live. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the effects of hay fever on you and your elderly loved one.

You may not be able to do much about mother-nature's mucus-makers, but AAFA offers advice to help manage airborne irritants inside your home:

  1. Vacuum regularly-once or twice per week should be enough to keep dirt and dust particles to a minimum
  2. Dominate dust-preventing pile-ups of mail and other knick-knacks will make it easier to maintain dust-free tables and counter-tops
  3. Filter the air-dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help make the air in your home as irritant-free as possible.
  4. Keep the pollen outside-crisp fall breezes might be a welcome change of pace after a sweltering summer, but it will also invite allergens into your home. You're better off closing the doors and windows and putting your air-conditioner on re-circulate.