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Chronic respiratory insufficiency (CRI) can remain dormant for a long time (i.e. without symptoms). The symptoms (respiratory difficulties) appear very insidiously and can gradually lead to a serious disability.

CRI is responsible for an ever increasing absenteeism, which can prove expensive for companies. It is the fifth cause of death in Belgium. Tobacco and pollution play a major part in the development of this disease.

Early diagnosis and treatment can considerably delay the evolution of this disease.

Early diagnosis is done by spirometry: it is a simple, nonconstraining test: The patient inspires fully and expires all the air out of the lungs as fast as he can.

The results of the test are compared to the predicted values that are calculated for his age, size, weight, sex and ethnic group.

It is in the early stages of the disease when treatment is the most effective. This test also detects early traces of asthma. We systematically advise this test to smokers and ex-smokers. The test can also be suggested to nonsmokers from the age of forty.