PURPOSE: Cigarette smoking is responsible for vast majority of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. It is felt petinent to have a simple and quick means of of evaluating firefighters with airway obstruction in a third world country like Nigeria, where the use of respirator device is not being practiced. Thepurpose is to determine the effect of cigarette smoking on pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms on firefighters.
METHODS: Design The study is a cross sectional comparison of Nigerian firefighters with atleast two years of fire fighting experience. Wright's peakflow meter, Mechanical Spirometer and questionaire were used as investigative tools. Setting: Federal Fire Service stations in Lagos, Nigeria between July and August 2002. Population: A simple random sample of 201 firefighters was examined. Data for 100 smokers(cases) and 101 non smokers (controls) were analysed.
RESULTS: The prevalence of symptoms indicative of respiratory disorder were similar in both cases and controls: 70(70%) vs 64 (63%). A high prevalence was observed in the agegroups 30–39yrs and 40–49yrs (p ≤; 0.01). These groups represent the bulk of the firefighters studied. The cases had predominant specific symptoms, chest tightness 51 (51%) of cases vs 32 (31.7%) of controls, cough 27 (27%) cases vs 20 (19%) controls. Comparison of the results of lung functions including PEFR, FEV1 FVC and the ratio FEV1 /FVC were similar in both groups. All had evidence of obstructive airway disease, however 25 (25%) of the smoking firefighters had features of restictive airways disease (p ≤; 0,01).
CONCLUSION: The high pevalence of respiratory symptoms and the pulmonary function changes demonstrate the need to advocate use of respirator device; as well as long term medical monitoring to detect airway diseases early. Smoking firefighters must be encouragd to change attitude and to stop smoking altogether.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The high prevalence of respiratory symptoms and COPD is significant.Emphasis on the use of respirator device should be stressed.
DISCLOSURE: Muhammad Alkali, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information