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Breathing Space Newsletter – Spring 2018

 


Asthma Action Plan

Think about your Asthma Action Plan on World Asthma Day

Today, May 1st, marks World Asthma Day – a good day to remember that the goal of managing asthma is to keep it under control so that you can lead a healthy, active life. To get asthma under control it is important to avoid or reduce exposure to the things that irritate your lungs and cause the symptoms. It is also important to follow the treatment plan from your health care provider. The unfortunate reality is that over half of those with asthma do not have their asthma under control.

For many, inhaled steroids are the most important daily medication for managing their asthma in the long-term. Inhaled steroids have been used for decades and are very effective at keeping asthma under control. The benefits of using inhaled steroids generally far outweigh the possible side effects. However, a 2018 study published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal found that almost half of the prescriptions for inhaled steroids for children with asthma were not filled. Underuse of inhaled steroids can lead to loss of asthma control and possibly the need for steroid pills that have a higher risk of side effects.

It is especially important for pregnant women to keep their asthma under control since they are breathing for two. In a 2018 study published in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers from SickKids Research Institute followed over 100,000 pregnant women. Compared to the year before their pregnancy, hospitalization rates during pregnancy increased 30 per cent for asthma.

Your asthma is likely under good control if you have all of the following:

  1. Use your reliever inhaler (usually a blue inhaler) no more than 3 times per week
  2. Cough, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightening no more than 3 days per week
  3. Can do normal physical activities and sports without difficulty
  4. Night asthma symptoms less than 1 night per week
  5. No missed regular activities or school or work
  6. If you use a peak flow meter, your peak flow is greater than 80 per cent of your personal best

If your asthma is not under control, see your health care provider to discuss what you can do to get it under control.

Asthma Action Plan

According to Canadian asthma experts, everyone with asthma should have a written asthma action plan to keep their asthma under control. An asthma action plan guides you with adjusting your medications based on symptoms you may be having. Studies show that people who use their asthma action plan have better control of their asthma.

An asthma action plan is a personalized set of instructions from your health care provider that guides you with:

  1. Checking if your asthma is under control, such as monitoring your symptoms (e.g., cough, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightening)
  2. Adjusting your asthma medications based on your level of control
  3. Can do normal physical activities and sports without difficulty
  4. Deciding when to call your health care provider or get to a hospital

A common format is based on the green, yellow and red traffic lights. When you are feeling well and have no regular asthma symptoms, you are in the green Go: Maintain Therapy zone. The green zone means your asthma is under control.

When your asthma is starting to get out of control, you are in the yellow Caution: Step-up Therapy zone. Follow the instructions to adjust your medications to get you back into the green zone and to keep you out of the red zone.

When your asthma is getting more out of control or it’s not getting better, you are in the red Stop: Get Help Now zone. This is an asthma emergency and you should immediately seek medical attention.

If you have any questions, ask your health care provider. You can also discuss your asthma action plan with a certified respiratory educator (CRE).

New Adult Asthma Action Plan (The Lung Association – Ontario)

View the New Adult Asthma Action Plan here.

Ask your healthcare provider to complete the asthma action plan and show you how to use it. Your healthcare provider can complete it manually with a print copy, or complete it electronically then save it to a computer and print it out.

New asthma action plans available from The Lung Association – Ontario:

Ask your healthcare provider to complete the asthma action plan and show you how to use it. Your healthcare provider can complete it manually with a print copy, or complete it electronically then save it to a computer and print it out.


Spring asthma tips

Breathe easy this spring

With the warmer weather upon us, spring cleaning may be on your mind. If you have asthma however, it’s a good idea to focus some of your spring cleaning efforts on the air you breathe in your home. Read more

Manage your energy if you live with COPD

Manage your COPD today

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may find you run out of energy at times. Any activity, including breathing, requires energy and that uses up valuable oxygen from your blood. Read more

Lung Health Advisory Council

Update on the council

The passage of Bill 71, Lung Health Act in 2017 has officially enacted into law the Ontario Lung Health Advisory Council. Read more

Be air aware & know your number

Air Quality Health Index

With the warmer weather approaching, everyone should be aware of an important tool that is available throughout Ontario to help reduce your risks from the effects of air pollution. Read more

Asthma soccer coaches workshop

Unique workshop for coaches

The Lung Association – Ontario has partnered with the Ancaster Soccer Club to deliver a free 60- minute workshop. Read more

News and Events

Browse The Lung Association – Ontario’s upcoming news and events. Read more

Your Dollars, Your Impact

Improving lung function and quality of life

The Lung Association – Ontario is proud to announce Sean Gill, Ph.D., as the winner of the Breathe New Life Award. Read more


Spring Asthma Tips

Breathe easy this spring

With the warmer weather upon us, spring cleaning may be on your mind. If you have asthma however, it’s a good idea to focus some of your spring cleaning efforts on the air you breathe in your home. Indoor air is an important health concern, as most Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can play a significant role in triggering asthma symptoms.

Here are tips on reducing some of the more common indoor asthma triggers:

Dust and dust mites

  • Remove or reduce dust-collecting items such as carpeting, drapes, stuffed toys, old pillows
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water
  • Encase pillows and mattress in dust mite-proof covers
  • Keep humidity level below 50 per cent
  • Vacuum regularly using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or central vacuum

Mould

  • If the humidity level is greater than 50 per cent, use a dehumidifier
  • Limit the number of plants in your home
  • Fix leaks and moisture problems as quickly as possible
  • Remove clutter and allow air to flow throughout your home, especially in the basement
  • For small amounts of mould, use warm soapy water to clean it up. For larger amounts of mould, hire mould abatement experts.
  • Check that your eaves troughs (gutters) and drain spouts are clear of any buildup
  • Make sure the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation so that rainwater drains away — water should flow easily away from the house
  • Throw away musty items

Cleaning products

  • Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that irritate the lungs
  • Buy air friendly household cleaning products or make your own — see The Lung Association Air Friendly Household Products fact sheet
  • When using cleaning products, air out the home by opening windows and using vent fans

Cigarette smoke

  • Do not allow smoking in your home or car at any time
  • If you smoke, take it outside every time — and when you’re ready, call The Lung Association for help on quitting smoking

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Manage your energy if you live with COPD

Manage your COPD today

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may find you run out of energy at times. Any activity, including breathing, requires energy and that uses up valuable oxygen from your blood. When you have COPD, your lungs do not work as well, which makes it harder to get that oxygen. You also use up even more energy breathing.
Here are some tips to help you stay active and manage your energy levels:

Pace yourself
Work at a slow, steady pace. If you start to feel tired or breathless, stop and rest.

Eat smaller meals more often and rest after eating. Listen to your body — when you feel like taking it easy, work shorter periods or do tasks that take less energy.

Set priorities
Figure out which tasks you have to do and which are most important to you. Also take time for some tasks and hobbies that you really enjoy.

Plan ahead
Plan your most tiring tasks for times when you have the most energy. You may have more energy right after you’ve taken your medications.

Make sure you have a list when you go to the grocery store so you don’t have to go back.

Plan each week by spreading out activities, balancing work and rest each day.

Adjust activities
Find easier, less tiring ways of doing chores. For example, sitting requires less energy than standing.

Some stores deliver goods right to your door. Some grocery stores will either deliver to you or pack your order for you to pick up with your car.

If you qualify for an accessible parking permit, you will be able to park closer to stores and other venues.

Organize your space
In the kitchen and other rooms, plan counters and cupboards so the most frequently-used items are easy to reach. Reduce clutter that gets in your way so that you can move around your home more easily.

Purchase proper tools
The right tools can save time and effort. For example, use a dolly to move things such as groceries. Buy a shoehorn with a long handle so you don’t have to bend over.

Ask for help
Ask for help when doing tasks that use a lot of energy so that you can save your energy for other things.

If possible, consider hiring help for household chores, yard work, shoveling snow, and fall clean-up.

Use relaxation techniques
Take time to relax. Tension, anxiety and worry can make you feel more tired and short of breath. Plan time for activities that you enjoy.

Practice a relaxation technique such as visualization or deep breathing. And don’t forget to listen to your body and rest before you get too tired.

Think about your posture
Proper posture saves energy. Working with your back bent or shoulders slumped boosts your chances of muscle strain and increases the likelihood you’ll hold your breath.

For more tips on managing energy with COPD, download or order our Energy Management fact sheet.

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Lung Health Advisory Council

Update on the council

The passage of Bill 71, Lung Health Act in 2017 has officially enacted into law the Ontario Lung Health Advisory Council.

What does the passage of Bill 71 mean to Ontarians?

  • It establishes a Lung Health Advisory Council that will make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care on lung health issues;
  • It develops and implements an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan respecting research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease; and
  • It requires the Minister to consider the recommendations and reports of the Lung Health Advisory Council and to make improvements in lung health awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care.

What is the Lung Health Advisory Council?

The Lung Health Advisory Council will be dedicated to providing provincially-based advice and recommendations on lung health to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to make improvements in lung health awareness, diagnosis, treatment and care. Its goal will be to work towards the development and implementation of an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan that will provide a coordinated approach to prevent lung disease, improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare spending.

For further information, please contact Eric Pegolo at epegolo@lungontario.ca.

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Be Air Aware & Know your Number

Air Quality Health Index

With the warmer weather approaching, everyone should be aware of an important tool that is available throughout Ontario that will help guide you in reducing your risks from the effects of air pollution.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a scale designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health, helping you make decisions to protect your breathing.

The AQHI measures the air quality in relation to your health on a scale from 1 to 10 – the higher the number, the greater the health risk associated with the air quality. The index describes the level of health risk associated with this number as ‘low’, ‘moderate’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’, and suggested steps we can take to reduce our exposure and improve the quality of the air you breathe.

Seniors, children, those working outdoors and people with chronic heart or lung conditions are at a greater risk of the health effects associated with high AQHI numbers.

You should get into the easy habit of checking your local AQHI number regularly, especially during the hot summer months when there is an increased likelihood that air pollution will affect your breathing.

Tips to protect your breathing outdoors

Follow these tips to protect your lungs and breathing from air pollution:

  • Check the current and forecast maximums in your community at www.airqualityontario.com or www.airhealth.ca or by downloading the app.
  • Follow the AQHI health messages based on whether or not you are in the “at risk population”
  • Avoid areas that have a higher pollution level, such as near major roads
  • Exercise indoors if the AQHI level is too high
  • Ask your healthcare provider about protecting your lungs when air quality is poor
  • Sign up for air quality alerts at www.airqualityontario.com/aaqhi/alerts.php or hear recorded messages at 1-800-387-7768 or 416-246-0411 (local in Toronto).

Learn more about the AQHI.

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Asthma Soccer Coaches Workshop

Unique workshop for coaches

Asthma in children

Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions in children, affecting as many as one in five children. However, for the one in five children, all can still play sports, as long as their asthma is managed and under control. Playing sports is an integral part of being active and maintaining a healthy weight. Children and youth with asthma can compete even at the highest levels and should not have to sit on the sidelines.

Why coaches need to understand asthma

Asthma of any severity can progress to a serious, life threatening asthma attack.  Even an athlete with mild asthma can have severe, unexpected symptoms. Exercise is a common trigger for asthma flare-ups, and some children and youth without a history of asthma may develop symptoms. Yet symptoms can be prevented if asthma is well managed by the athlete, their healthcare provider, and parent/guardian.

A unique workshop for coaches

It’s estimated that more 40 per cent of youth play soccer in Ontario. It is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada. For this reason, The Lung Association – partnered with the Ancaster Soccer Club to deliver a free 60 minute workshop, led by a registered nurse and certified respiratory educator, to their coaching team. This interactive proof-of-concept course provides coaches and referees with tools and information to learn about asthma, how it affects an athlete’s ability to compete, and how coaches could help manage a child’s symptoms.

The goal of these workshops is to help community sports organizations establish asthma friendly environments and implement strategies to ensure that, as an organization, they are prepared.

How The Lung Association can help

Parents and coaches can contact our Lung Health Information Line at 1-888- 344-5864 or email info@lungontario.ca for help, advice and support on how to best manage asthma within a sports context.

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News and Events

World Asthma Day  |  May 1, 2018

This day is a reminder to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.

Annual Golf Classic |  June 1, 2018

Our Annual Golf Classic brings our partners in lung health together at the beautiful Glencairn Golf Club for a round of golf in support of much needed research into the prevention and treatment of lung disease.

The Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament |  June 1 to 3, 2018

Join us for the 12th annual Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament at the Steve Brown Sports Complex at Lions Park Brantford.

Insure for Your Cause

What if your monthly home and auto insurance payments could help someone breathe?

The Lung Association – Ontario, Aviva Canada and Jarrett Thompson Insurance and Financial Services have teamed up to offer a new twist on how you choose your home and auto insurance.

It’s called Insure for Your Cause and a portion of every month’s insurance payment will be donated to The Lung Association – Ontario.

Aviva has also offered a discounted rate for the Insure for Your Cause program so now you can also get access to group insurance rates while at the same time donating to the Ontario Lung Association.

For more information please call 1-888-859-3590 or send an email to jthompson@pbnet.ca to get more information about how to save money and donate to a worthy cause in our community.

 

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Your Dollars, Your Impact

Improving lung function and quality of life

The Lung Association – Ontario is proud to announce Sean Gill, Ph.D., as the winner of the Breathe New Life Award. This award was developed to highlight excellence amongst up-and-coming researchers, and is granted to the new investigator with the highest score, as determined by the Canadian Thoracic Society review panel.

His project will compare how certain enzymes and their inhibitors control the function of blood vessel cells within the lung with healthy versus when compromised due to injury or infection. This study aims to identify therapeutic targets where drugs could act to decrease the damage occurring in the lung as a result of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This would improve lung function, leading to enhanced quality of life for patients that survive ARDS.

“For new and young investigators like me, support from The Lung Association – Ontario Grant-In-Aid Program is vital, especially in the current increasingly challenging research funding climate. This support allows the pursuit of new, innovative avenues of research and generation of important pilot data required to obtain multi-year, peer-reviewed funding from national agencies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. I am extremely grateful for the support provided by the Grant-in-Aid program as it has enabled us to identify a novel mechanism regulating the leak of fluid into the lungs following lung injury and ensured that we are highly competitive in future peer-reviewed grant competitions.”

Click here to learn more about the research we fund that helps people breathe.

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