Chronic nonspecific respiratory disease with reference to 926 cases (Afrikaans)

Wicht, C. L. ; Hugo, P. M. (1975)

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This study has been compiled from the hospital records of 926 patients with chronic nonspecific respiratory disease, i.e. asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The aims of the study were to ascertain the role of age, allergy, family history, cigarette smoking, social class and occupation in the genesis of these diseases, and to investigate aggravating factors and the morbidity associated with these diseases. Asthma was found to occur in the younger age groups, allergy and family history being the outstanding etiological factors in this disease. In chronic bronchitis the age factor is not decisive, and the influence of allergy, family history and the smoking of cigarettes is evenly distributed. Emphysema occurs mainly in later life, although 2 cases of younger onset with α1 antitrypsin deficiency were noted. In this disease, allergy and family history appear to be of lesser etiological importance than the smoking of cigarettes. The majority of patients in all diagnostic categories fell into social group III (skilled workers) and most did work not associated with dust. In each diagnostic category, a certain number of patients were found in whom the factors of allergy, family history, cigarette smoking and general atmospheric pollution did not play a part. In these patients the possible role of the microclimate at the place of work is emphasised and warrants further study. The high prevalence, especially of asthma and chronic bronchitis, among housewives is stressed. Aggravating factors, i.e. humidity, irritating substances, temperature variations, dust, and type and locality of work, are shown to influence the symptomatology of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. These diseases have a high associated morbidity, resulting in the loss of working days and in early retirement for the sufferers.

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