Four hundred Australians are dying and up to 40 000 more are hospitalised each year due to asthma, says the National Asthma Council Australia.
The statistics are shocking but according to CEO Kristine Whorlow they are a vast improvement on the early 1990s when thousands of Australians died each year from the respiratory disease.
“There used to be a lot of deaths in children and young people but now 85 per cent of deaths are people 55 and over,” Whorlow said. “In the older age groups, often they have other conditions like smoking related respiratory disorders”.
Whorlow said although Australia had done well reducing the annual death toll, winter hospitalisations due to asthma remained high because the cold air and seasonal illnesses triggered attacks.
One of the nation’s leading authorities on asthma, Dr Jonathan Burdon, has urged the country’s estimated 2.5 million suffers to stay warm and get a flu vaccination shot if they haven’t already done so. “The common cold is behind four out of five bad asthma flare-ups or attacks in winter,” he said.
Incorrect inhaler use is another risk with up to nine out of 10 people are using their inhaler improperly according to Burdon.
The national authority said sufferers needed to make sure their medication was up to date and they had an action plan, in case of attack.
Correct inhaler use how-to videos are available at the National Asthma Council Australia’s website: www.nationalasthma.org.au