10 Worst Cities for Asthma

Worst Places to Live with Asthma

Did you know the city where you live or travel to can make asthma symptoms worse for some people? The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) complies a list of the worst cities for asthma each year.

While many people may not think that where they live contributes to their asthma, it can have some effect. Air pollution and pollen count, for example, may want to be taken into consideration for those living with asthma.

Worst Cities for Asthma in 2023

The following are some of the worst places to live with asthma.

1. Springfield, Massachusetts

Topping the AAFA list at number one is Springfield, Massachusetts. The city has earned the number one spot a few years in a row for a couple of reasons. Springfield is high on the list for asthma prevalence and also the number of emergency room visits due to asthma. The city also tends to have a high pollen count. Pollen is a common asthma and allergy trigger.

2. Dayton, Ohio

A little further to the east, is Dayton Ohio, which sits at number two overall for worst places to live with asthma. Dayton also has a high number of asthma-related emergency room visits. It is also one of the worst cities for fall allergies, due to high levels of ragweed.

3. Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro is a beautiful city. But it is also one of the top cities for allergies. The high number of flowers and trees, along with the warm weather, can make spring allergy season last for several months, which may also lead to asthma symptoms.

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is nicknamed the city of brotherly love. But if you have asthma, this east coast city can be a challenge. Philadelphia is high on the worst cities for asthma due to the poor air quality and high poverty level, which may affect asthma.

5. Cleveland, Ohio

Rounding out the top five of the AAFA’s list is Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is high on the list because of the high levels of particle matter in the air. Particle matter is the solid and liquid pollution that gets into the environment. It may consist of dirt, soot and smoke and often triggers asthma.

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6. Albuquerque, New Mexico

According to the AAFA, in 2019, Albuquerque had the highest asthma prevalence ranking in the country. The American Lung Association also found that Albuquerque had high levels of air pollution. The good news is the city is working on improving air quality.

7. Jackson, Mississippi

Moving to the southern part of the county, Jackson, Mississippi, also makes the worst places to live with asthma list. One of the reasons the city is on the list is due to the high number of asthma-related deaths.

8. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is not in the overall top 10 most challenging cites for people with asthma. However, it still may present some problems for people with lung disease. That’s because Atlanta is one of the cites still lacking in smoking laws to protect people from secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke can irritate the airways and lead to an asthma attack.

9. Phoenix, Arizona

The warm weather and poor air quality put Phoenix on the worst cities list. Another reason Phoenix may be challenging for people with asthma is the high pollen count.

10. Riverside, California

Another factor that plays a part in how well asthma is controlled is access to asthma specialists. Riverside, California, has a lack of availability of doctors that specialize in asthma. A lack of asthma specialists is linked to poor asthma outcomes.

What Makes a City Bad for Asthma?

Several factors play a role in determining what makes a city bad for people with asthma. The AAFA uses the below measures to compile their "worst cities for asthma list".

  • Asthma prevalence.
  • Asthma-related deaths.
  • Asthma-related ER visits.

Additionally, they look at factors that affect asthma outcomes and severity, including:

  • Pollen count.
  • Air quality.
  • Poverty level.
  • Smoke-laws.
  • Access to asthma specialists.

Tips for Dealing with Asthma

If you have asthma and live in one of the above cities, you don’t have to move. But there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of asthma symptoms, including the following:

Check the air quality. The air quality can change from day to day regardless of what city you live in. Knowing whether the air quality is poor or not can help you know when to avoid activities outside.

Be aware of your asthma triggers. Try to identify what triggers your symptoms. Once you know what leads to your symptoms, you can take steps to decrease your exposure.

Talk with your doctor to build your own asthma action plan. Understanding how to measure your peak flow, when to take your medication, and recognizing signs of a flare-up early can help keep severe asthma attacks at bay.

Avoid exercising outside on poor air quality days.

Shower as soon as you come in from outdoors to remove allergens such as pollen from your skin.

Keep your windows closed on days when pollution is especially high.

Reduce other triggers. You cannot do that much to reduce outdoor pollution, but you can control your indoor air quality. For example, avoid burning scented candles and using fireplaces, and try to use an air purifier.

You can also check out our article on the best places to live with asthma.

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