Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. People with asthma experience episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways.
About 419 deaths were due to asthma in 2014 (0.3% of all deaths)
1 in 9 Australians reported asthma in 2014–15
1 in 5 people aged 15 and over with asthma have a written asthma action plan, based on 2014–15 self-reported survey data
Use of medicines is the mainstay of asthma management.
In 2011–12 based on self-reported survey data, 43% of Australians with asthma had taken a respiratory medicine in the last 2 weeks . These medicines may have been used to treat asthma or another respiratory condition, as most of the medicines used for asthma are also used for patients with other chronic lung diseases, in particular chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The overall goals of using medications to treat asthma are to:
Different asthma medicines are used to achieve these goals, as follows:
There are clinical guidelines to help doctors and patients to best manage asthma. These guidelines include recommendations for effective use of medications.
For more detailed information about medicines used to treat asthma, refer to the Australian Asthma Handbook, Version 1.2, which provides Australia’s national guidelines for asthma management , Respiratory medication use in Australia 2003–2013: treatment of asthma and COPD , and Asthma in Australia 2011 .
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