Bad air quality prolongs flu symptoms for some Valley residents

The unusual poor air conditions for this time of the year have clashed with the flu season, prolonging recovery for many who come down with the flu.
January 9, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The poor air conditions for this time of the year have clashed with the flu season, prolonging recovery for many who come down with the flu. Now urgent care facilities and emergency rooms are seeing an increase in patients.

Bad air quality is a condition that is normally seen in the dry summer months, but the lack of storms this winter has contributed to a streak of bad air throughout the Valley.

Dr. John Gasman, Chief of Pulmonary Care Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Hospital, said he has noticed a spike in patients experiencing symptoms related to chest disease. He said he is even seeing symptoms in those who don't have chronic or pre-existing conditions.

"We have had more people in the urgent care clinics, in the emergency department all primary care givers are seeing their patients come in with symptoms of cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, itching eyes, burning throat," Gasman said.

For Jennifer Massingham and her family getting over the common cold has taken a lot longer than usual.

"We have been coming out a lot less because of the cold and I can tell the air quality, we have all had colds over the holidays and it seems to be taking a lot longer to go away," Massingham said.

Gasman said having a lingering cold during these conditions is not uncommon.

"If they have the poor air quality affecting their nose sinuses throat and chest, and they have underlying chest disease, they're in for trouble," Gasman said.

While there isn't much that can be done to bring the necessary moisture needed to clear the air, Gasman said there are steps that can be taken to help reduce uncomfortable symptoms that bad air can bring.

"Personally in day to day life watch your outdoor exposure, change the filters in your furnace, get those HEPA-pleated more expensive filters for your furnace to clean the air in your house if you are running the ventilation system," Gasman said.


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