In 2004-05, Australia spent $3.3 billion directly on the management of respiratory conditions. In 2007-08, general practitioners managed respiratory problems more than any other condition and in 2006 conditions of the respiratory system were the third most common underlying causes of death. This report presents the epidemiology of each of the main respiratory conditions and highlights their differences and similarities. The conditions addressed include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, influenza, pneumonia, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, pneumoconiosis and sleep apnoea.
Over 92% of the 402 asthma deaths in 2006 were among people aged 45 years and over. Asthma in older Australians is distinct in many ways. The presence of comorbid conditions makes the management of asthma in older people more complex. The disease itself is also more persistent and severe than in the younger ages.