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.
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
About 421 deaths were due to asthma in 2015
11% of the Australian population have asthma.
Around 2.5 million Australians (11% of the total population) have asthma, based on self-reported data from the 2014–15 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS).
Based on the 2014–15 AHS, among those aged 0–14, asthma was more common in males, but among those aged 15 and over, asthma was more common in females (Figure 1). This change in prevalence for males and females after adolescence is likely due to a complex interaction between changing airway size and hormonal changes that occur during adolescent development. This change in prevalence for males and females after adolescence is likely due to hormonal changes during adolescent development and differences in environmental exposures .
Note: Includes self-reported doctor-diagnosed current and long-term asthma.
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata, National Health Survey (NHS) 2014–15 (Data table).
In 2012–13, 18% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians had asthma (an estimated 111,900 people), with a higher rate among females (20%) compared with males (15%).
The prevalence of asthma was almost twice as high among Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians (a rate ratio of 1.9) after adjusting for difference in age structure .
The difference in asthma prevalence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians exists across all age groups, but is more marked for older adults (Figure 2).
Source: ABS Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) 2012–13: First results, Table 6 (Data table).
The rate of asthma varies by remoteness and socioeconomic area. For men this variation is not significant. However, in 2014–15, the prevalence of asthma in women was:
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata, NHS 2014–15 (Data table).
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