Prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms in an urban population of North Kerala

Bindhu Vasudevan, Silpa S.


Background: Chronic respiratory diseases are becoming a challenge to public health due to its high morbidity and mortality. Most of these diseases are preceded by variable periods of chronic respiratory symptoms. If chronic respiratory symptoms can be diagnosed and managed properly and timely, we can reduce the incidence and complication of chronic respiratory diseases.

Methods: A community based cross sectional survey was conducted in 20 electoral wards of Calicut corporation of Northern Kerala among the adult resident population of 20-70 years to assess the prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm, wheezing, breathlessness and nasal allergy and the factors associated with these chronic symptoms. The information was collected from 1384 eligible subjects selected by cluster sampling using British research council respiratory questionnaire.

Results: About 9.2% (n=95) of study population had at-least one of the chronic respiratory symptoms. 1.8% (n=19) had all the chronic respiratory symptoms. Prevalence of various chronic respiratory symptoms was chronic cough (8.7%), Phlegm (14.3%), wheezing (8.5%), breathlessness (2.2%) and nasal allergy (14.5%). Advancing age, current smoking, family history and past history of various respiratory diseases are significantly associated with the development of chronic respiratory symptoms. Female gender, longer duration of stay in Calicut corporation and regular alcoholism were significantly associated with chronic phlegm in the study population. Wheezing, breathlessness and chronic nasal allergy was significantly higher among lower socio economic status.

Conclusions: Prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms is high among the urban population of Northern Kerala. Older age group, smoking, past and family history of respiratory diseases are the major risk factors associated with these respiratory symptoms. 


Chronic respiratory symptoms, Kerala, Nasal allergy, Calicut corporation

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