Linking Respiratory Symptoms, Military Service Abroad & Desert Environments

Research Paper Title

Respiratory symptoms among Swedish soldiers after military service abroad: association with time spent in a desert environment.

Background

The aim of this paper was to study whether Swedish soldiers who have served abroad had a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms than the general population and, if this was the case, also to study whether this was associated with time spent in a desert environment.

Methods

The prevalence of respiratory symptoms among 1,080 veterans from Kosovo and Afghanistan was compared with that in almost 27,000 subjects from a general population sample, using propensity score matching and logistic regression.

Results

The prevalence of wheeze (16.3 vs. 12.3%), wheeze without a cold (11.1 vs. 8.0%), nocturnal coughing (26.6 vs. 20.1%) and chronic bronchitis (12.3 vs. 6.8%) was significantly higher among soldiers than controls (p < 0.05). A dose-response-related association was found between time spent in a desert environment and wheeze, wheeze with breathlessness and wheeze when not having a cold. Having been exposed to desert storms was related to nocturnal cough and chronic bronchitis.

Conclusions

Swedish soldiers who had served abroad had a higher prevalence of wheeze and cough than a control group from the general population. The association between being exposed to a desert environment and respiratory symptoms indicates that further protective measures should be introduced for military personnel serving in a desert environment.

Reference

Saers, J., Ekerljung, L., Forsberg, B. & Janson, C. (2017) Respiratory symptoms among Swedish soldiers after military service abroad: association with time spent in a desert environment. European Clinical Respiratory Journal. 4(1): 1327761. Published online 2017 May 31. doi: 10.1080/20018525.2017.1327761.

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