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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 210-217

Unrecognized respiratory morbidity among adolescents and young adults in Nigeria: Implications for future health outcomes

1 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Lagos; Department of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria
2 Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria/University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu, Nigeria
3 Department of Medicine, Lagos State University College of Medicine and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria
4 Department of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria
5 Department of Paediatrics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria
6 Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonology, University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Joy N. Eze
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria/University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu 400001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nmj.NMJ_36_20

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Background: Lung function impairment is a major determinant of morbidity and mortality. Unrecognized respiratory morbidity may be a missed opportunity to improve future health outcomes. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and the relationship to spirometry abnormalities and respiratory diagnosis among medical students in Lagos, Nigeria. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study among students aged 16–35 years. We assessed frequency of respiratory symptoms, previous respiratory diagnosis, and spirometry abnormalities. The relationship between respiratory symptoms, spirometry pattern, and previous respiratory diagnosis was determined using the Chi-square test and stepwise forward logistic regression analysis. Results: Of 640 participants, 464 (72.5%) performed good quality spirometry tests. Two hundred and forty-four (52.6%) had at least one respiratory symptom. Preexisting conditions were only identified in 60 (12.9%): 49 (7.7%) asthma, 29 (4.5%) allergic rhinitis, 16 (2.5%) treated tuberculosis, and 8 (1.3%) bronchitis/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Using the Global Lung Function Initiative (GLI) lung function predicted values, obstructive (8.4%) and restrictive abnormalities (25.4%) were common. An obstructive pattern was associated with previous diagnosis of asthma, but there was no significant association for the restrictive spirometry pattern. Conclusions: Among otherwise healthy students, respiratory symptoms and lung function abnormalities are common. The vast majority are without a formal diagnosis. Asthma accounted for the majority of obstructive spirometry pattern seen, but the restrictive abnormalities based on GLI equations remain unexplained. Further research is required to determine the cause of these abnormalities and long-term implications in apparently healthy young individuals.

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