By Nora Tooher
Asthma suffers in the Akron area, including Tallmadge, have cause for concern these days. The region now ranks among the top 25 “most challenging places to live with asthma,” according to the latest survey by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Akron ranked as the 21st “most challenging” area in the 2013 survey. It had ranked 41st in 2012.

The disease of the lungs, in which the airways become blocked or narrowed, causing breathing difficulty, affects 25 million Americans.

The AAFA reported that asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization for children.

The foundation used 13 factors grouped into three primary areas to rank the 100 largest metro areas. Factors included the number of deaths from asthma reported in an area; risk factors in a region, such as air pollution, the number of ozone alert days and pollen levels; whether a community has effective public smoking bans and the number of people requiring treatment for asthma. It also considered the poverty rate and the number of people without health insurance in a community.

Akron was rated worse than average in such areas as estimated asthma prevalence, annual pollen score and air quality. In all, Akron rated worse than average in seven of the categories considered, average in three and better than average in three.

Other Ohio cities also fared poorly in the report, with Dayton ranked as the seventh most challenging area in the country, followed by Cleveland, ranked 18th, Toledo, ranked 25th and Cincinnati, ranked 29th.

Several other Midwestern cities did equally poorly, with such Pittsburgh ranked 16th, Chicago, 17th, and Indianapolis, 34th.

Among the 100 cities considered by AAFA, Richmond, Va., was rated the most challenging city for asthma suffers, followed by Chattanooga, Tenn.; Memphis; Philadelphia; Oklahoma City and Detroit.

Following Dayton, McAllen, Texas; Atlanta; and Knoxville, Tenn., rounded out the top 10.

San Francisco was ranked as the best city for asthma suffers, followed by Seattle; Boise, Idaho; Palm Bay, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; Cape Coral, Fla.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa and Raleigh, N.C.