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The information below is courtesy of Asthma Australia. Visit the Asthma Australia website for more information.


What is Asthma?


Asthma is a long-term lung condition. People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs which react to triggers, causing a ‘flare-up’. In a flare-up, the muscles around the airway squeeze tight, the airways swell and become narrow and there is more mucus. These things make it harder to breathe.


An asthma flare-up can come on slowly (over hours, days or even weeks) or very quickly (over minutes). A sudden or severe asthma flare-up is sometimes called an asthma attack.

Asthma Statistics


  • 1 in 9 people in Australia has asthma.
  • It’s more common in males aged 0–14, but among those aged 15 and over, asthma is more common in females.
  • The rate of asthma among Indigenous Australians is almost twice as high as that of non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Asthma is more common in people living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.
  • The prevalence of asthma is significantly higher in people living in inner regional areas compared with people living in major cities or outer regional and remote areas.

Asthma Symptoms


A person’s asthma symptoms can vary over time – sometimes they will have no symptoms, especially when their asthma is well-controlled. Symptoms often vary from person to person, but they are most commonly:


  • breathlessness
  • wheezing
  • tight feeling in the chest
  • continuing cough


Symptoms often occur at night, early in the morning or during/just after activity. They are caused by the narrowing of the airways.


If your asthma is well controlled, you should only have occasional asthma symptoms.


If you have symptoms regularly, you should see your doctor, and visit the Asthma Australia website.


Asthma Causes / Risk Factors


The causes of asthma are not fully understood, although people with asthma often have a family history of asthma, eczema and hayfever.


Research has shown that exposure to tobacco smoke (especially as a baby or young child), obesity and some workplace chemicals can increase the risk of developing asthma.


Asthma Triggers


There are lots of different triggers, and they might be something that you:


  • catch (cold or flu);
  • breathe in (cold air, humidity, allergens, irritants, smoke);
  • feel (stress, strong emotions, reflux);
  • do (exercise/physical activity);
  • eat/drink/take (foods/additives, medication, alternative therapies); or
  • use (latex)


Learn more about common asthma triggers.


Asthma Treatment / Management


Asthma cannot be cured, but for most people it can be well controlled by following a daily management plan involving preventer medication.