Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways, causing them to become inflamed, narrowed, swollen and sometimes blocked by mucus, making it hard to breathe [44298].

Asthma can be triggered by viral respiratory infections, allergens in the air, cigarette smoke and exercise [20400]. Common symptoms may include wheezing, feeling short of breath, tightness in the chest and coughing [44298].

The exact causes of asthma are unknown, however, the following factors are thought to contribute to it occurring:

  • genetics
  • exposure to tobacco smoke in the womb, or as a baby or child
  • air pollution
  • mouldy houses
  • being born premature (with a low birth weight)
  • prolonged intense exercise (occurring over several years) [44298].

Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory condition among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [42101], and a major cause of morbidity [41103]. This may be due to risks such smoking, as well as a lack of access to culturally appropriate health services and other social and environmental factors. These factors must be addressed to support positive asthma outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [35131].


Key resources



Bardil by Hughie Brent

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