Report reveals cost of asthma to the community

Long-time asthma sufferer, Louise Gosbell, 37, of Blacktown welcomed a new Asthma Australia report on the impact of the disease on the community.

The Live, Love, Play report says about one million Australians with uncontrolled asthma take time off work each year because of their symptoms, and many say that asthma has affected their careers and work performance.

Ms Gosbell was hospitalised for the first time at the age of two and had been in and out of hospital during much of her childhood.

‘‘Using reliever medication several times a day was the norm for much of my life and it was critically important that I always have a supply of medicine within arm’s reach at any given time,’’ she said.

She recently visited a new GP who recommended she use preventer medication: a decision which has given her a new lease on life.

‘‘As a result of the new medication, my sleeping patterns have improved and I am able to enjoy a more flexible social and family life without being constantly out of breath.’’

The report says more than two million Australians have asthma and experience regular asthma symptoms, 48 per cent were in paid work and 60 per cent saw their asthma as a physical health issue, with only a minority thinking that asthma affected other areas of their life. 

“While many people have their asthma under control, there are still many others that do not and may think that they do,’’ Dr Simon Bowler, respiratory physician, and chairman of Medical Advisory Committee, Asthma Australia said.

‘‘This is a wake-up call to people whose work is impacted by asthma as well as their employers,’’ he said.

‘‘The research has shown us that although people may believe that they are controlling their asthma, in reality symptoms can get in the way of workers completing tasks and can have an impact on their career prospects,” said Mark Brooke, chief executive of Asthma Australia. 

“This is also a problem for our economic productivity, with nearly one in three people with asthma working below their best levels.” 

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