Airway hyperreactivity in asymptomatic military personnel

Michael J. Morris*, Darin S. Schwartz, Jana L. Nohrenberg, Sean N. Dooley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: Asthma is frequently diagnosed in military personnel despite strict guidelines that disqualify persons with active disease or a recent history of asthma. It is generally considered incompatible with military service, because of the regular physical training, outdoor training exercises, and deployments to remote locations. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of airway hyperreactivity in asymptomatic military personnel, as an estimate of subclinical reactive airway disease. Methods: A prospective study of healthy, asymptomatic, military personnel with no previous history of asthma and <1 year on active duty status was conducted. After completion of a screening questionnaire, personnel underwent baseline spirometry with a portable spirometer. Personnel with obstructive indices (based on published guidelines) and matched control subjects participated in an exercise test (1.5-mile run), with pre- and postexercise spirometry. Results: A total of 222 asymptomatic military personnel completed baseline spirometry, and 31 (14%) were found have airway obstruction. A normal matched control group of 31 military personnel and 26 personnel with obstruction performed exercise spirometry. Twenty-three percent of the participants with obstruction demonstrated increased airway hyper-reactivity after exercise, based on a reduction in forced expiratory volume at 1 second, compared with 19% of control subjects. Conclusions: Asymptomatic airway obstruction has a prevalence of 14% in young military personnel. A significant percentage of individuals also have evidence of worsening obstruction during exercise. These data suggest that screening spirometry may identify early reactive airway disease in asymptomatic individuals and should be considered as a method to identify persons predisposed to developing symptomatic asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1194-1197
Number of pages4
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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