About 1 in 12 Americans has asthma. To control symptoms, it’s important to get the right care and avoid common triggers like pollen, soot, and smog. That’s why where you live can make a difference to your health. Every year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranks 100 U.S. cities according to how tough they are for people with asthma. Here are this year’s 10 best places.
No. 10: Austin, TX
The Texas capital has a high pollen score, thanks to the ashe juniper, or “mountain cedar,” trees that dot the Hill Country landscape. But it still has above-average air quality and fewer ER visits due to asthma than other parts of the U.S. Fewer people are diagnosed with the condition here than in other cities.
No. 9: Raleigh, NC
Residents in the “City of Oaks” enjoy great air quality. State laws have cut pollution from cars, power plants, and industries over the past decade. Last year, ozone levels (which make asthma symptoms worse) hit a record low. The North Carolina capital does have a higher-than-average rate of ER visits due to asthma, but fewer people use quick-relief medicines, meaning they manage their condition well.
No. 8: Sarasota, FL
Smoking is still a problem in this city on Florida’s west coast. (About two-thirds of the U.S. has stronger smoke-free air laws than the Sunshine State). Still, the death rate from asthma here is low.
No. 7: Cape Coral, FL
This southwestern Florida city is a popular vacation spot thanks to its Gulf Coast beaches and golf courses, but it’s a good place for people with asthma, too. The number of people who have the condition here is about average, but it causes fewer trips to the emergency room than in other cities. Cape Coral residents also rely less on asthma medications -- another sign that their condition is well-controlled.
No. 6: Palm Bay, FL
Rockets launch year-round from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in this largest city on Florida’s “Space Coast.” Palm Bay’s low pollen score and lack of air pollution help make the area a draw for people with asthma.
No. 5: Abilene, TX
The name “Abilene” means “grassy plain,” so it’s no surprise that this small Texas city was named one of the worst in the nation for allergies. Allergens can trigger asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. But Abilene is one of two cities on this list where residents simply don’t have asthma as much as people in other places in the nation. (The other is Austin, TX, No. 10.)
No. 4: San Jose, CA
This tech-savvy city in the Bay Area has a low number of people living in poverty or without health insurance. Both matter when you have asthma. Uninsured children with the disease are less likely to be diagnosed and treated than those who do have health care. And treatment can be expensive. Sixteen percent of people with asthma spend more than 10% of their salary on medical expenses.
No. 3: Seattle
Seattle’s mild temperatures and long rainy season may be a plus for people with asthma. Cold, dry weather is a well-known trigger of symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath. While the number of people living with asthma in the “Emerald City” is on par with other U.S. metro areas, use of daily and emergency inhalers here is low, as are trips to the ER.
No. 2: Boise, ID
Idaho’s capital moved up a notch on this year’s list. Air pollution and pollen counts here are lower than in other U.S. cities. And thanks to enough doctors in the region, people with asthma can keep up with treatment and avoid flare-ups.
No. 1: San Francisco
The Golden Gate City tops the list for the third year in a row. The reasons range from strong smoke-free laws and good air quality to a below-average number of people who are uninsured or living in poverty. Despite fewer asthma specialists in the region than in other U.S. cities, residents with asthma handle their symptoms well with less medicine, including inhalers for asthma attacks.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.