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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 40-44

High prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms among autorickshaw drivers of Urban Puducherry, South India


1 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
2 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
4 Centre for Pollution Control and Environmental Engineering, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India
5 Department of Pediatrics, Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Sambalpur, Odisha, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Thulasingam Mahalakshmy
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry - 605 009
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_163_17

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Context: Auto-rickshaw (three wheelers open cabin type of vehicle) drivers are exposed to traffic air pollution. Studies have demonstrated reduced pulmonary function among drivers. However, limited studies have determined the prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among drivers. Aims: Among auto-rickshaw drivers of urban Puducherry to determine prevalence of (i) chronic respiratory symptoms by using Indian Study on Epidemiology of Asthma, Respiratory Symptoms, and Chronic Bronchitis (INSEARCH) questionnaire and (ii) COPD by measuring peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR). Setting and Designs: Cross-sectional, descriptive study. Subjects and Methods: Cluster random sampling was used to select 297 auto-rickshaw drivers. Subjects were interviewed using the INSEARCH questionnaire. PEFR was measured using Wright's peak flow meter. We also assessed exposure to tobacco smoke. Statistical Analysis Used: Prevalence and 95% confidence interval of chronic respiratory symptoms and COPD were calculated. Results: All the auto-rickshaw drivers were male, and 75% were in the age group of 31–50 years. They spend most of the time on the roadside either driving or waiting at the auto-stand. Prevalence of nonspecific respiratory symptoms among auto-rickshaw drivers was 76% (breathlessness on exertion 68%, cough at night and phlegm in the morning 22%, wheezing 18% assessed for last 12 months). Around 28% of them had PEFR <80%. The prevalence of tobacco smoking was also high (64%), and 100% had exposure to tobacco smoke at the workplace. Conclusion: The nonspecific chronic symptoms were high among auto-rickshaw drivers as compared to the general population noted from a multicentric study done in India. We recommend that auto-rickshaw drivers should use personal protective equipment and would require regular screening and treatment for respiratory impairment.






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