Asthma, asthmalike symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and the degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness in epidemiologic surveys

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1987 Sep;136(3):613-7. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/136.3.613.


Measurement of bronchial hyperresponsiveness has been suggested to be a useful test in identifying subjects with asthma in epidemiologic groups. We explored the association between the degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness, respiratory symptoms suggestive of asthma, chronic bronchitis, and various definitions of asthma based upon information obtained from a questionnaire. We determined bronchial hyperresponsiveness by methacholine inhalation test, administered a standardized respiratory questionnaire, and performed spirometry on 1,392 male workers in various industries: 229 (16.5%) had PC20 less than 8 mg/ml, 66 (4.7%) had PC20 less than 2 mg/ml, and 8 (0.6%) had PC20 less than 0.5 mg/ml. Only 760 workers had no respiratory symptoms; no workers with PC20 less than or equal to 0.5 mg/ml, 31.0% of workers with PC20 greater than 0.5 but less than or equal to 2 mg/ml, and 38.0% of workers with PC20 greater than 2 but less than or equal to 8 mg/ml had no chest symptoms. Those reporting wheeze or breathlessness, and especially those with both symptoms, were significantly more likely to have bronchial hyperresponsiveness with a low PC20. The reporting of chest tightness did not influence this relationship, and there was no difference between the occurrence of "wheeze without a cold" and "persistent wheeze." Although there was a stronger association of PC20 less than or equal to 2 mg/ml with asthma than with chronic bronchitis, the association of PC20 greater than 2 and less than or equal to 8 mg/ml was not different with asthma than with chronic bronchitis. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness was more closely associated with asthma than with any asthmalike symptoms ascertained by a questionnaire developed for the study of chronic bronchitis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • British Columbia
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchial Spasm / epidemiology*
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Spirometry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires