World health report

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Chronic nonspecific lung diseases

Chronic bronchitis and emphysema, usually considered together as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma are among the chronic non-specific lung diseases which kill almost 3 million people a year. COPD is especially prevalent among older age groups, and deaths from it are expected to increase significantly with the rise in smoking and environmental pollution.

Respiratory diseases rank among the three principal causes of workdays lost, and COPD is responsible for the majority of these. It shares with asthma characteristics such as obstruction of the respiratory passages. Asthma is more prevalent in children, causes high morbidity and can be fatal even in young people; it can also evolve into COPD. The prevalence of asthma has been increasing in recent years in both children and young adults, for reasons that are not clearly understood.