NEW YORK -- A new analysis, which ranked the 50 worst cities for respiratory infections in the United States, was released today, naming Greenville, S.C. as the top city for respiratory tract infections. Rounding off the top 10 are: Nashville, TN; Birmingham, AL; Oklahoma City, OK; Greensboro, NC; Little Rock, AR; Dallas, TX; Dayton, OH; Jacksonville, FL; and Charlotte, NC. Bert Sperling of Sperling's BestPlaces
conducted the study. A city was identified as a worst city for respiratory tract infections based on three criteria: (1) prevalence of the following: sinusitis, pharyngitis (sore throat), bronchitis, acute upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, otitis media (middle ear infection), other respiratory tract infections and the common cold; (2) total per capita prescriptions written for oral antibiotics for respiratory tract infections; and (3) prevalence of state level antibiotic resistance.
"Millions of respiratory tract infections occur each year," said Bert Sperling. "This ranking, the first of its kind, may increase awareness of respiratory tract infections in cities and regions across the country."
The ranking of these cities is significant in light of results of a recent separate survey of 1,789 physicians conducted by Harris Interactive with a margin of error of 5 percent. This survey found that 41 percent of all physician visits during the months of October through March are from patients seeking medical advice or treatment for respiratory tract infections. Based on their clinical experience, half of the doctors surveyed agree that
respiratory tract infections are more difficult to treat now than 10 years ago. Moreover, 90 percent of all the physicians are increasingly concerned about drug-resistant pathogens when treating respiratory tract infections, and 93 percent of them agree that inappropriate use of antibiotics is a contributor to the development of resistant pathogens.
"With respiratory season in full swing, respiratory infections can be challenging to avoid and easily spread. If you do become ill, it is important to accurately describe your symptoms to your doctor to help determine whether you have a bacterial infection, which may need to be treated with an antibiotic, or a virus, such as the common cold, for which antibiotics are ineffective," said B. Chandler May, MD, otolaryngologist and clinical research scientist at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif. "If it is a bacterial infection, your doctor will be able to prescribe an antibiotic that is appropriate for your specific infection and instruct you on how to take it."
Respiratory infections are common, whether or not you live in one of the top ranked cities. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent respiratory infections:
* Practice Good Basic Hygiene:
Don't overlook the basics. According to the CDC, appropriate handwashing is one of the most effective ways to help stop germs from spreading. When you are sick, stay at home and avoid close contact with others. In addition, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
* Get Vaccinated:
Speak with your doctor about which vaccinations are appropriate for you.
* Treat Infections Appropriately:
Many infections are caused by two kinds of germs-bacteria and viruses. Antibiotics are effective in eliminating bacteria, but will not cure viral infections or prevent the virus from spreading.
* Not All Antibiotics are Alike:
Not all antibiotics are alike or appropriate for every infection. Talk to your doctor to determine which antibiotic, if any, is right for you.
* Take Medications As Directed:
If antibiotics are prescribed for your respiratory infection, take the medication exactly as directed by your doctor. Complete your entire prescription even if you are feeling better, do not skip doses, do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else, and do not save prescriptions until the next time you are sick.
In addition to identifying the worst cities for respiratory infections, the study found that the Southern region included the most high-ranking cities, followed by the Midwest, Northeast and the West, respectively. Out of the top 10 worst cities for respiratory infections, eight are located in the South. In contrast, not only did the West region have the least cities on the list, but also had eight out of the top ten cities where physicians write the fewest respiratory antibiotic prescriptions per capita.
While Greenville, S.C. ranked the worst city overall, places that ranked highest in the individual categories include:
-- St. Louis: highest percent of its population affected by respiratory infections
-- Nashville: most respiratory antibiotics prescriptions written per capita
-- Nevada: highest incidence of antibiotic resistance
The 50 Worst Cities for Respiratory Infections are:
1. Greenville, SC 17. Cincinnati, OH 33. Denver, CO
2. Nashville, TN 18. Orlando, FL 34. New York, NY
3. Birmingham, AL 19. Houston, TX 35. Albany, NY
4. Oklahoma City, OK 20. Memphis, TN 36. Miami, FL
5. Greensboro, NC 21. West Palm, FL 37. San Antonio, TX
6. Little Rock, AR 22. Cleveland, OH 38. Detroit, MI
7. Dallas, TX 23. Las Vegas, NV 39. Washington, DC
8. Dayton, OH 24. Salt Lake City, UT 40. Norfolk, VA
9. Jacksonville, FL 25. New Orleans, LA 41. Boston, MA
10. Charlotte, NC 26. Kansas City, MO 42. Albuquerque, NM
11. Tampa, FL 27. Milwaukee, WI 43. Hartford, CT
12. Saint Louis, MO 28. Indianapolis, IN 44. Seattle, WA
13. Atlanta, GA 29. Chicago, IL 45. Phoenix, AZ
14. Columbus, OH 30. Louisville, KY 47. Portland, OR
15. Richmond, VA 31. Pittsburgh, PA 48. Los Angeles, CA
16. Philadelphia, PA 32. Baltimore, MD 49. Minneapolis, MN
50. Sacramento, CA