Exposure to firewood fumes associated with increased risk of chronic cough

22 May, 2017

Exposure to firewood fumes from indoor cooking is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic cough among females living with HIV, according to new research published in ERJ Open Research.

The study aimed to investigate the relationship between exposures to household air pollution from cooking fuel types (firewood versus charcoal) and chronic respiratory symptoms in 734 participants from the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes Study.

Participants were enrolled at the time of antiretroviral therapy initiation and seen quarterly from 2005 to 2014 for health-focused questionnaires, CD4 count and HIV viral load. At the time of study enrolment, 70% of participants were female, the median age was 34 years, median CD4 count was 167, 23% had ever smoked, and 58% reported firewood as the primary cooking fuel.

Using multivariable logistic regression adjusted for age, occupation, household asset ownership index, smoking status, cooking fuel type, CD4 count and viral load, researchers found that cooking with firewood, as compared to charcoal, was associated with an increased risk of chronic cough among females, but they found no relationship between respiratory symptoms and cooking fuel type among males.

The authors suggest this disparity might be because cooking is typically performed by women in the region, and also propose that the increased chronic cough risk among those using firewood versus charcoal may be related to airborne endotoxin inhalation.

The authors note that self-reporting of cooking fuel type and respiratory symptoms present possible limitations to the study, as it leaves this data open to misclassification.

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