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Asthma and Cities: Which Cities Rank Best?

You may already know the worst cities for asthma. What about the best?

Asthma and Cities: Should I Move?

Understandably, many people living in cities and suffering with asthma are desperate to get out. They want to move, convinced that life in another part of the country will resolve their asthma symptoms. However, asthma experts generally advise against the idea.

Why? For one, it often doesn't work. Asthma is such a complex disease -- affected by so many different factors -- that it's hard to predict how a person will do in a new location, Waldron says.

Another thing to keep in mind: people who have allergies are prone to developing new allergies. So after all the bother of moving, you could just wind up trading your old ragweed allergy in Boston for a brand new oak tree allergy in Palm Bay, Fla.

Be very cautious when considering a move because of your asthma symptoms. Remember, there's no best city for asthma. If you're determined, Bernstein recommends that you try living in the new location for a few months before permanently uprooting yourself.

Controlling Your Asthma Symptoms

Of course, you could be living in one of the "best" cities for asthma and still have the nation's worst asthma symptoms. Location matters less than how well you're controlling your condition, experts say.

Start at home. Even if you have no power over the weather, smog, or the pollen count outside your house, you do have some control over the allergens and irritants inside it. And what's inside might have a bigger impact on your asthma symptoms.

"People spend an average of 22 hours a day indoors," says Bernstein. That makes for a lot of exposure to potential asthma triggers in a confined space. Allergy-proofing your home and removing irritants -- like perfumes and cleaning agents -- could really help.

You also need to work with your doctor to get control of your condition. If you have allergic asthma, that means allergy testing. It's the only way to find out precisely what is causing your problems. You'll also need to use your medications exactly as prescribed.

While it's good to be aware of how the local conditions in your city could affect asthma symptoms, where you live shouldn't dictate how you feel.

"As long as you have good control of your asthma, you really can live in any city in the world and still be symptom-free," says Waldron.

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Reviewed on June 29, 2009

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