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

What is respiratory health?

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].

What do we know about respiratory health in the Indigenous population?

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 (nearly one-third) than by those living in remote areas (nearly one-fifth).

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people had similar levels of most kinds of respiratory disease, but asthma (the condition most often reported by Indigenous people) was 1.6 times more common for Indigenous people in 2004-2005 [2].

In 2010-11, more than one-in-ten of all hospital admissions for Indigenous people were because of a respiratory condition (excluding hospital admissions for dialysis) [3]. Indigenous people were almost three times more likely than other Australians to be admitted into hospital for a respiratory condition.

In 2010, respiratory disease was the cause of 8% of Indigenous deaths [4]. Indigenous people were more than twice as likely as other Australians to die from a respiratory disease.

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 Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Australian hospital statistics 2010-11. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012) Causes of death, Australia, 2010. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
 
Last updated: 10 April 2013
 
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