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Free Content Trends in symptoms of obstructive lung disease in Norway

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SETTING: Evidence is accumulating that there has been an increase in the adult population burden of obstructive lung disease. Has this increased the burden of symptoms? It is possible that diagnostic efficiency has improved, so that milder asthma cases are being diagnosed.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate changes in symptom burden by asthma diagnosis, age and sex.

DESIGN: We performed two postal cross-sectional studies among adults aged 15–70 years in Oslo, Norway, in 1972 and again in 1998/1999 (total = 39998). Changes in 11 self-reported respiratory symptoms were investigated.

RESULTS: The prevalence of having at least one symptom increased from 50% to 60% (P < 0.001), and the distribution of symptoms showed an overall increase. Nine symptoms increased in prevalence. The increase was largest among the young and females, and was present in both those with and those without asthma. For any given number of reported symptoms, asthma prevalence was higher in 1998 than in 1972, suggesting increased case finding.

CONCLUSION: There has been an increase in the population burden of respiratory symptoms matching the observed increase in young adult asthma, together with a probable increase in the clinical willingness to give an asthma diagnosis.

Keywords: asthma/epidemiology; cross-sectional studies; epidemiology/trends; respiratory signs and symptoms; retrospective studies

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Thoracic Medicine, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway 2: Centre for Clinical Research, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway; and Section for Medical Statistics, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway 3: Department of Thoracic Medicine, National Hospital, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway 4: The Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-based Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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