Department of Respiratory Medicine, Urmia University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, URMIA- IRAN.
Background: The prevalence of asthma is known to be increasing especially in developed countries. Most studies assessing the prevalence of asthma in adults have used the "European Community Respiratory Health Survey" (ECRHS) protocol. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of asthma, asthma-like symptoms and smoking as well as the correlation of asthma symptoms and smoking among Urmia medical university students. Materials and Methods: An ECRHS questionnaire with additional questions about absence from class because of wheezing and/or dyspnea and smoking was filled for them. Results: One thousand five-hundred students with the mean age of 20.8±3.5 years filled out the questionnaires. Among them, 17.1% of males and 2.3% of females were current smokers. The most prevalent symptoms during the last 12 months were wheezing (19.7%), resting breathlessness (10.2%), exercise-induced cough (16.5%), and asthma attacks (3.1%). Asthma symptoms were strongly related to smoking (for all variables p <0.001) but were not related to sex (p>0.05), 5.4% had a history of absence from class because of wheezing or dyspnea. Conclusion: We found a relatively high prevalence of wheezing among young adult university students. Our findings suggest that cigarette smoking is common among young university students with asthma symptoms. Adequate public health measures are needed to prevent smoking among Iranian young adults, and medical students should be better educated with regard to asthma and the risks of smoking. (Tanaffos 2007; 6(1): 53-58)