Colorado Springs ranks as one of the best US cities for asthma sufferers

April 23, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2014 at 7:30 am

Breathe easy, Colorado Springs.

Dealing with asthma apparently comes easier here than elsewhere in the nation.

Colorado Springs ranks as one of the best cities in the country for people suffering from the condition, placing sixth out of the largest 50 cities, according to NerdWallet. Denver came in seventh, leaving Colorado and Texas as the two states with two cities in the top 10.

Asthma is fairly common across the nation, with nearly 40 million people - or about one in eight across the United States - likely to have experienced symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2012 National Health Interview Survey.

The high ranking came as little surprise to Ryan Lowe, president of the Colorado Asthma Coalition. The state's relatively low humidity helps limit mold growth - a major issue for asthma patients - while also warding away dust mites and cockroaches, which can also serve as irritants, he said.

On average, bigger cities fared worse than smaller cities in the NerdWallet study, the company said. Los Angeles fared the worst out of the nation's 50 largest cities, while Omaha, Neb., received the top spot.

NerdWallet scored cities based on several factors, including the percentage of residents with asthma, overall air quality, the number of providers in each area and the cost of care - such as hospitalization payments and Medicare charges.

Myriad factors can cause asthma attacks, including tobacco smoke, pollution and pet allergies. A major factor working against Coloradans in recent years has been smoke from wildfires - a particular problem for the Pikes Peak region in light of the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.

Lowe stressed the need for education to help people deal with asthma. For example, he said, asthma patients often unknowingly use their inhalers incorrectly. The Colorado Asthma Coalition recently hosted a conference at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora to train health care providers on correct techniques.

"A huge component of asthma management is just making people understand what the environmental irritants, things like that, are out in the environment," said Lowe, who also works as a clinical pharmacy specialist in asthma for Kaiser Permanente in Denver. " . Education is such a big component."

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