MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - At least 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA), Memphis is the worst place to live if you have asthma. Last year, Memphis ranked third on the list, jumping to number one for 2012. Chattanooga and Knoxville also made the top five.
There are multiple factors that go into the data to determine the worst cities for asthma. The ranking is a direct result of an asthma patient’s exposure to lung irritants.
Local state laws allowing cigarette smoking in public areas plays a role. Race is also factor. For Hispanics and African Americans, the incidents of asthma and the severity of asthma are worse. Memphis is also ranked high because of seasonal allergies, a season that lasts nearly year round.
Allergist Dr. Tammy McCulley says, “All of the different pollen belts cross over Tennessee. You get the pollens from the southwest and from the southeast. It all comes together over Tennessee.”
Allergy and Asthma Care in Germantown is the only office in Shelby County that measures daily pollen and mold count. Allergies can aggravate or even cause asthma, even if you’ve never had signs before. In children, signs of asthma can be in the form of coughing and wheezing. For adults, more common symptoms include chest pain, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
There is no cure for asthma, but it can be well-controlled on asthma medication. Only 5-10% of the asthma population is considered to have the most severe form of the disease which does not respond well to asthma treatment.
“Around 15% of Olympic athletes have asthma,” says Dr. McCulley. “So, if they can work to the level of exercise that they do, then children and adults can control this disease.”