The respiratory system includes all the parts of the body involved with breathing, including the nose, throat, larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), and lungs . 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) .
Respiratory disease was reported by around one-quarter of Indigenous people in the 2004-2005 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) . 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 .
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) . 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 . Indigenous people were more than twice as likely as other Australians to die from a respiratory disease.