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Hyperreactive airway disease prevalence and correlates in adults: data from a cross-sectional national study in Lebanon
Background: Asthma and hyperreactive airway (HRA) disease are a major cause of health resource utilization and poor quality of life worldwide; its prevalence in adults may widely vary according to the definition used. It is mainly a childhood disease, but its natural history till adulthood is not well known. This is due to other confounding factors such as smoking and environmental factors that may lead to misdiagnose asthma as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Correct and timely diagnosis of asthma and HRA is important because it can be treated successfully and affected individuals may achieve good control of their disease. Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of asthma and HRA in Lebanese adults, their symptoms and predictors. Methods: A cross-sectional study using a multistage cluster sample was carried out in Lebanon, between October 2009 and September 2010.Lebanese residents aged 40 and above participated to the study; a post-bronchodilator spirometry was performed to confirm diagnosis. Results: Out of 2201 individuals, 218 (99%) were considered to have HRA. The following factors were found associated with HRA in the Lebanese population: Northern (ORa: 3.54) and Bekaa Plain (ORa: 2.44)] versus other regions; occupational exposure to toxic gases and fumes (ORa: 2.08); heating home with wood (ORa: 1.75); having a family history of chronic respiratory disease (ORa: 2.19), a history of childhood lung problem (ORa: 5.53), and father smoking during childhood (ORa: 1.47). Added to these factors, HRA was also predicted by female gender (ORa: 1.81); lower education (ORa: 120); older age (ORa: 1.28) and low birth weight (ORa: 3.14). Conclusion: This is the first epidemiological study in Lebanon that determined physician diagnosed asthma prevalence and hyperreactive airway disease and their associated factors among Lebanese adults. It also provides useful contributions that local health organizations may use for national programming and a foundation for health researchers to pursue further study in asthma research. Public awareness about the increased risk of asthma associated with heating homes with wood and exposure to passive smoking should be raised; Lebanese policy makers should also generate higher efforts to implement and reinforce the smoking ban law in public places.