The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines underline that the presence of chronic cough and sputum production before airflow obstruction offers a unique opportunity to identify subjects at risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for an early intervention. Current epidemiological data on these subjects are scant. Between 1998-2000, the authors evaluated the prevalence and characteristics of these symptoms by a multicentre cross-sectional survey of Italian people aged between 20-44 yrs from the general population (Italian Study on Asthma in Young Adults (ISAYA)). Besides the questions on asthma, more than 18,000 subjects answered the question: "Have you had cough and phlegm on most days for as much as 3 months per year and for at least two successive years?" The adjusted prevalence of subjects with chronic cough and phlegm was 11.9%, being 11.8% in males and 12.0% in females. From these subjects ∼20% reported coexisting asthma and ∼30%, predominately females, were nonsmokers. The survey showed that sex (female), smoking and low socioeconomic status were significantly and independently associated with chronic cough and phlegm, current smoking playing the major role. The prevalence of subjects with chronic cough and phlegm is startlingly high among young adults. Further follow-up studies are needed to establish how many of them will go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Cross-sectional studies
- Health surveys
- Risk factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine