Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) constitutes one of the main factors responsible for morbidity and mortality worldwide. Rhinitis has a high prevalence, but its relationship to COPD has not been determined.
Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of COPD and rhinitis in northern Greece and to examine their correlation.
Patients and methods: Of a total of 8,151 subjects (aged 21-80 years, from three regions of northern Greece) invited to participate in the study, 6,112 (75%) were included. The regions studied were: (a) Thessaloniki (1,733 study participants, 52.7 +/- 18.6 years old), an urban area with particulate air pollution frequently exceeding the acceptable limit, (b) Eordea (3,537 study participants, 51.4 +/- 15.5 years old), a typical industrial area with particulate air pollution with daily values exceeding the acceptable limit and (c) Grevena (842 study participants, 55.6 +/- 15.4 years old), a mountainous area without pollution. The study participants filled in the questionnaire on respiratory symptoms of the Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health of the Medical Research Council and underwent spirometry and rhinomanometry tests.
Results: The prevalence of COPD was 5.6% (8.2% in men and 2.5% in women) and that of rhinitis 24.7% (27.4% in men and 21.4% in women). COPD and rhinitis are related to common predisposing factors (smoking, age and sex). Moreover, rhinitis is related to particulate air pollution levels.
Conclusions: The prevalence of COPD and rhinitis in northern Greece does not differentiate from that found in other industrial countries. A functional relationship between upper and lower airways is speculated.
Copyright 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel