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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 
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spacing1What do we know about respiratory health among Indigenous people?

What is known about respiratory health in the Indigenous population?

The respiratory system includes all the parts of the body involved with breathing, including the nose, throat, larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), and lungs [1]. Respiratory disease occurs if any of these parts of the body are damaged or diseased and breathing is affected. Common types of respiratory disease include colds and similar viral infections, asthma, and pneumonia.

Risk factors for respiratory disease include: infections, smoking (including passive smoking, which is particularly bad for children), poor environmental conditions (especially areas that are dusty or have lots of pollen or pollution), poor living conditions, and other diseases (like diabetes, heart and kidney disease) [1].

Detailed information about respiratory disease is not yet available from the 2012-2013 AATSIHS, but respiratory disease was reported by around one-quarter of Indigenous people in the 2004-2005 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey (NATSIHS) [2]. Respiratory problems were reported more often by Indigenous people living in non-remote areas than by those living in remote areas.

In the 2012-13 AATSIHS, asthma was the respiratory condition most often reported by Indigenous people. It was nearly twice as common for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people [3].

In 2011-12, more than one-in-ten of all hospital admissions for Indigenous people were due to a respiratory condition (excluding hospital admissions for dialysis) [4]. Indigenous people were almost three times more likely than other Australians to be admitted into hospital for a respiratory condition.

In 2012, respiratory disease was the cause of 8% of Indigenous deaths. Indigenous people were more than twice as likely as other Australians to die from a respiratory disease [5].

References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010) Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases in Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Australia, 2004-05. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey: first results, Australia, 2012-13. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013) Australian hospital statistics 2011–12. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) Causes of death, Australia, 2012. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
 
Last updated: 25 September 2014
 
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