Bronchitis takes air out of town
Area residents are experiencing as much illness this winter from bronchitis as influenza, and such is the case across America, local health officials say.
"There appears to be a bronchitis/flu-type symptom that is more stubborn than in the past," said Dr. Debbie Bennett, medical director of the Kingman Regional Medical Center Family Practice Clinic.
"Kids get it at school and bring it home. The kids bounce back quickly, but their parents don't.
"It can start as a virus that runs you down before a secondary bacterial infection comes on board. If you have it more than 3-4 days, you should be seen by a physician."
Clinic doctors are seeing many such cases and prescribing antibiotic treatment that continues 7-10 days to knock down the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control states there are nationwide outbreaks of the illness, and getting a flu shot, even this late in the season, may lessen its effects, Bennett said.
Bronchitis is an acute inflammation of air passages within the lungs. It occurs when the trachea (windpipe) and large and small bronchi (airways) within the lungs become inflamed due to infection or other causes, according to the eMedicineHealth Web site.
Acute bronchitis commonly follows an upper respiratory infection such as the common cold or a sinus infection. Symptoms can include fever with chills, muscle aches, nasal congestion and sore throat.
A persistent cough that may be either dry or phlegm producing is a common symptom of bronchitis. It may last more than two weeks, resulting in sore chest and abdominal muscles.
Christy Bronston, director of nursing, said the Mohave County Department of Public Health has not received specific reports of anything out of the ordinary this winter.
"This is flu season and we expect to continue to see that," Bronston said. "Other than that we've had no reports of any abnormal levels of upper respiratory illnesses."
Two calls placed for comment to the Arizona Department of Health Services were not returned.
Jamie Taylor, director of development and public relations at KRMC, said all 19-treatment areas of the emergency room operated at surge capacity nearly all of February. That led to longer-than-normal waiting times for people wishing to be examined.
"I spoke with our infection control coordinator," Taylor said. "She says everything from bronchitis to pneumonia has come in, but very little influenza.
"Whatever it is seems to be hanging on, and if people have underlying health issues, it can turn into pneumonia."
Some cases of respiratory syntial virus have been seen in the ER. It's an infection from which some patients develop bronchitis and others pneumonia, she said.
The hospital now has a new catheterization laboratory on its north side. The old cath lab within KRMC is being converted into a fast-track area for ER patients coming in with ear infections, sore throats or other problems that likely can be treated and released, Taylor added.
The conversion should be completed by August, at which time eight more beds would become available.
"My advice is that when you're really ill, cough into your sleeve or arm," Bennett said. "Cover your mouth to prevent the spread of germs, go home and rest."