Most people with asthma enjoy generally good health

The majority of people with asthma are generally in good health, but use the health care system more and experience more long-term health conditions than those who have never had asthma, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) finds.

The report, Statistical snapshots of people with asthma in Australia 2001, looks at health-related characteristics of people with asthma and those who have never had asthma, and finds that the majority of people with asthma are more likely than not to:

  • feel good about their quality of life
  • have health the same or better than they did a year ago
  • have no days of reduced activity due to illness over any given fortnight
  • have no days away from work or school or study due to illness or injury
  • have received all recommended childhood immunisations

Nevertheless, more than half of people with asthma:

  • have consulted a doctor within a three-month period
  • use at least one medication for asthma
  • have at least three long-term health conditions

Report author Dr Perri Timmins, of the AIHW's Asthma, Arthritis and Environmental Health Unit, said that 16 out of the 22 long term conditions examined in the report are more likely to be present among people with asthma than among people who have never had asthma.

'Allergic and inflammatory conditions such as hay fever, allergy, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis and emphysema are consistently more common among people with asthma.

'Migraine, back pain, depression, and anxiety-related conditions are also more frequent among people with asthma,' Dr Timmins said.

According to the report, people with asthma are slightly more likely than those who have never had asthma to experience psychological distress, miss days of work or school, or reduce their level of activity due to their asthma. They are also more likely to be overweight.

'It should be stressed however, that despite the difference in health-related characteristics between people with asthma and those who have never had asthma, the majority of people with asthma consider themselves in generally good health,' Dr Timmins said.

9 February 2007

Further information: Dr Perri Timmins, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1228 or mob. 0407 915 851

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.