With more than 2.5 million Australians living with asthma,1 most of us would have come in contact with someone with this condition in one way or other. Some will have experienced tightening of the airways and resulting wheeze; others will have a vivid memory of a family member, friend, or colleague always with an inhaler in reach. 

“I hadn’t slept for two days because I was having these constrictions every half hour”

Yet most people have little appreciation of the realities of severe asthma, a condition that affects around 176,000 Australians2 and is characterised by worsening symptoms and flare-ups despite the use of inhaled therapies, even at the highest dose.

While the treatment of severe asthma has improved significantly with the advent of biologic therapies, the impact of this disease remains confronting and highly significant. Each year in Australia, asthma is responsible for approximately 40,000 hospitalisations2 and 400 deaths1

The challenge to improve the treatment of severe asthma starts with understanding the unmet needs of patients. One such patient is Rhiannon, a young woman from Sydney who describes an asthma attack during admittance to Royal North Shore Hospital as the “scariest moment of my life”.

“Even with medication, I was still going into constrictions every 20 to 30 mins. I had so little oxygen in me that I couldn’t even turn over to press the call button for the nurse. Luckily, I was in ICU and the nurse was in the room. I locked eyes on her. She knew I was in trouble and helped me out. I couldn’t breathe at all.” 

Take a few minutes to watch Rhiannon’s story, to understand the impact of severe asthma on her life.

"And then the pain comes, with every breath, constant, but also stabbing"


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Asthma. Updated August 2020. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-respiratory-conditions/asthma/contents/asthma  Accessed March 2021
  2. Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma; What is severe asthma, available at www.severeasthma.org.au Accessed March 2021