4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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Asthma is a respiratory condition affecting the airways of the lungs, causing episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to the narrowing of the airways[1]. Asthma may affect people of all ages and can usually be managed through treatment such as medication use and managing lifestyle behaviours which can assist in avoiding and reducing asthma symptoms[2].


Around 2.7 million Australians (one in nine or 11.2% of the total population) had asthma in 2017-18. Over the last 10 years, the prevalence of asthma increased in the Australian population from 9.9% in 2007-08 to 11.2% in 2017-18. Since 2014-15, the prevalence of asthma in the population remained steady (10.8%).

Females had higher rates of asthma than males in 2017-18 (12.3% compared with 10.2%). However, asthma was more common among boys aged 0-14 years (12.1%) than girls (7.9%), with this pattern being consistent since 2001.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with asthma, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18

The prevalence of asthma was higher for people living in Inner Regional (12.9%) or Outer Regional and Remote Australia (12.7%) compared with those living in Major Cities (10.6%).


According to the National Asthma Council Australia every adult and child who suffers from asthma, should have their own individual written action plan that includes instructions for when they are well and whenever symptoms worsen[2]. Of those with asthma, just over three in five children (62.9%) under the age of 18 years and approximately one in four (23.2%) adults aged 18 years and over had a written asthma action plan. Adult women were more likely to have a written action plan than adult men (25.7% and 19.6% respectively).

Frequency of medication use varies by age. Of those with asthma, one in three (32.8%) used medication to help manage the symptoms of asthma daily and one in six (17.3%) people used medication a few times per week while two in five people (41.0%) did not take medication in the last two weeks.

Just under half of children under the age of 18 (48.1%) and just over three in five adults (61.4%) with asthma, took medication in the last two weeks.


For adults aged 18 years and over with asthma, their self-assessed health was generally regarded more poorly when compared to the total population. One in ten (10.1%) asthma sufferers rated themselves as having excellent health, half that of the total population (20.2%).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Self assessed health status and whether had asthma, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


The Department of Health, January 2015, Chronic respiratory conditions - including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/chronic-respiratory>; last accessed 12/11/2018
National Asthma Council Australia, August 2015, How is Asthma managed? <http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/how-is-asthma-managed>; last accessed 12/11/2018