This is not the latest release View the latest release

Contains key statistics and information about asthma and its prevalence in Australia

Reference period
2017-18 financial year

Key statistics

  • 2.7 million Australians had asthma.
  • Over the last 10 years, the prevalence of asthma has increased.
  • 33% of people with asthma used medication to help manage the symptoms of asthma daily.

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].

Who had asthma in 2017-18?

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.

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%).

Treatment and prevention

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.

Perception of self-assessed health

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%).

Data downloads

Table 1: Summary health characteristics, 2001 to 2017–18 - Australia

Table 2: Summary health characteristics, 2017–18 - States and territories

Table 3: Long-term health conditions - Australia

Table 4: Long-term health conditions by population characteristics - Australia

Table 5: Selected current long-term conditions by health risk factors and health status - Australia

Table 19: Comorbidity of selected chronic conditions - Australia

Table 20: New South Wales

Table 21: Victoria

Table 22: Queensland

Table 23: South Australia

Table 24: Western Australia

Table 25: Tasmania

Table 26: Northern Territory

Table 27: Australian Capital Territory

Table 33: Small area estimates

Released 17/04/2020

Additional data cube with modelled small area estimates for persons with chronic health conditions by age for Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2) of usual residence have been added.

All data cubes


Show all

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4364.0.55.001.

Back to top of the page