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Mon, Dec. 09

Bronchitis crowding urgent care centers

The waiting room already was full Tuesday when Dr. Joe Gochoco arrived a few minutes past the 9 a.m. opening time of the Express Medical Care clinic he opened last October.

Express Medical Care and Fastrax Urgent Care Center both are in a small business complex at 2002 Stockton Hill Road. There were few parking spaces to be found at either facility.

"December was remarkably quiet," Gochoco said. "Things picked up in January with upper respiratory cases coming in. People have been experiencing shortness of breath, chest discomfort, fever and some lower respiratory infections."

Many of the cases he has seen the past 11 weeks he has diagnosed as bronchitis, which is characterized by breathing difficulty, Gochoco 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 get inflamed due to infection or other causes.

Gochoco's observations reinforce what Dr. Debbie Bennett, medical director of the Kingman Regional Medical Center Family Practice Clinic, stated in a Miner story appearing March 19.

Bennett said there appears to be a bronchitis/flu-type symptom going around that is more stubborn than in past winters. She added children might contract it at school and bring it home. "I'm seeing more adults with bronchitis," Gochoco said. "The rise in cases may be due to it having been a colder-than-normal winter followed by a spring which has been pretty windy. Sinusitis can progress into bronchitis."

A persistent cough that may be either dry or phlegm producing is a common bronchitis symptom. It may linger more than two weeks and lead to sore chest and abdominal muscles in its victim. Two messages seeking comment were left at Fastrax Urgent Care. Neither call was returned.

Dr. Arshad Tariq, physician in the Urgent Care Center of the Arizona Institute for Medicine & Surgery at 3636 Stockton Hill Road, also was contacted.

He has treated many cases of influenza the past two months, about 80 percent of them being Influenza A and 20 percent Influenza B. "I'm not seeing anything out of the ordinary," Tariq said. "Compared to the previous year, flu cases are up perhaps 15 percent. But I would not call it an epidemic."

Gochoco was asked what he recommends to avoid coming down with bronchitis. "Keep any sick kids at home. Use the precautions of extra hand washings and no towel sharing."

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