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Breathing Space Newsletter – Fall 2018


It’s Lung Month – time to think about your breathing

We all need to breathe. It is essential to human existence and of vital importance to each and every one of us. But we rarely think about the 22,000 daily breaths we take – until we have trouble taking them.

Tips to keep your lungs healthy

Breathing power your body, your brain—and your life. But because it comes so naturally, you probably don’t think much about your breath. Your lungs perform essential work every day, so it is important not to take them for granted. Make lung health a priority. Here are some steps you can take:

Don’t smoke

Smoking cigarettes is the most preventable cause of lung damage. It is the leading cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It can narrow the air passages, making breathing more difficult and cause swelling in the lungs, leading to chronic bronchitis. Smoking contributes to the early deaths of more than 37,000 Canadians every year.

If you smoke, you will benefit almost right away from quitting. Within eight hours, the oxygen level in your blood will return to normal. In just three days, your lung capacity will increase. When you are ready, The Lung Association can provide help with quitting smoking.

Avoid exposure to pollutants that can damage your lungs

Second-hand smoke increases the risk for ear infections, colds and bronchitis, increases the likelihood of children developing asthma and raises the risk of cancer, heart disease and other lung diseases. Outdoor air pollution and chemicals in your home or workplace can all cause or worsen lung disease. Don’t exercise outdoors on bad air quality days. Make your car and home smoke free. Eliminate harmful chemicals and fumes you might be breathing in, such as solvents and chemicals, and test your home for radon. Radon is a colourless, odourless gas that is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. Long-term exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Ontario, linked to 850 lung cancer deaths each year.

Exercise

Aerobic exercise helps strengthen your breathing muscles, improve your lung capacity, boost your immune system and maintain a healthy body weight. Get active most days of the week to keep fit. Find an exercise or sport that is right for you and do it regularly.

Stay on top of your health

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps prevent disease. Having regular check-ups is also important, even when you are feeling well. Lung disease often goes undetected until it is serious. During a check-up, your healthcare provider will listen to your breathing. Be sure to tell him or her about any symptoms such as chronic cough or shortness of breath. Early detection of lung disease is the key to prompt and successful treatment.

Take the lung health check to see how healthy your lungs are.

Take a Breather

Breathe life into your workplace

The Lung Association – Ontario is calling on all companies across Ontario to commit to healthy breathing spaces and invest in employees’ wellness by incorporating Take a Breather into the workplace. Read more

GERD

What it means if you have chronic lung disease

Many people have occasional “acid reflux”, where stomach acid or stomach content flows back into esophagus. When this happens often, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Read more

Gear up your family for fighting winter germs

Vaccines to protect from pneumonia

Between kids being home for winter break, holiday stress and a stronger-than-normal cold and flu season predicted, preventing sickness is top of mind. Read more

How exactly can you catch the flu

The Lung Association shares some essential information on this seasonal headache.

There are some misconceptions on what the flu is, how you can catch it, and how to treat and prevent it. Read more

Uncovering the Gaps to Better Diagnose and Treat Lung Disease

Helping the missing million

The Lung Association is embarking on two pan-Canadian projects aimed at learning more about the challenges that exist in properly diagnosing and treating people with COPD and asthma. Read more

Test your home for radon

With winter approaching, it’s time to get your home tested for radon

Testing for radon is simple, convenient and inexpensive. With do-it-yourself kits, it’s easy to follow the instructions included and test your home. Read more

Holiday Giving

Support The Lung Association this holiday season through our Christmas Seals

This holiday season, think about giving the best gift there is to give – the gift of breath. Read more

Helping your voice be heard

Ensure we have the information to advocate on your behalf.

If you are living with lung disease or a caregiver of someone with lung disease, we are looking to get valuable input from you. Read more

News and Events

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

Your Dollars, Your Impact

Using sputum to treat steroid resistant severe asthma

Through his translational research, Dr. Parameswaran Nair has seen tremendous benefits and improvements in the quality of life in patients he serves. Read more



Take a Breather

Breathe life into your workplace

The Lung Association – Ontario is calling on all companies across Ontario to commit to healthy breathing spaces and invest in their employees’ wellness by incorporating Take a Breather into their workplace.

Take a Breather is a wellness program designed to improve the lung health and overall well-being of all employees. Employees will experience the benefits of weekly tips and tools first hand, and learn to manage stress, increase productivity and harness their breath.

Investing in employee wellness through Take a Breather will not only improve morale within your corporate culture, but is also an investment into the lung health of Canadians. Your company will be playing a part in creating a better breathing future for all.

For more information please contact Daniella Shurgold, Manager, Corporate Partnerships – dshurgold@lungontario.ca

We need your feedback

In order to continue to improve our programs, we are seeking input from employees and employers across the province. Please take 5 minutes to tell us a little about your workplace here.

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Gastroesohageal Reflux Disease and what it means if you have chronic lung disease

Many people have occasional “acid reflux”, where stomach acid or stomach content flows back into the esophagus (food pipe). When this happens often, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Symptoms

Symptoms of GERD can include:

  • Pain or burning sensation in your stomach, chest or throat – this is sometimes called “heartburn”
  • Bitter or sour taste from acid backing up into your mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Some people have a cough or hoarse voice

Diagnosis

Your healthcare provider may suspect you have GERD based on the symptoms you have and when you have them, especially if the symptoms are related to food intake or other factors. A trial of GERD medication can help in the diagnosis – if it clears up your symptoms, then the diagnosis of GERD is likely.

Your healthcare provider may use a scope to look at your esophagus. Another option is to insert a catheter (thin tube) into your esophagus to check the acidity over 24 hours.

Management

GERD can often be managed with lifestyle changes. Here are some of the lifestyle changes that can help:

  • Don’t eat late at night
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce eating the following:
    • Fatty and spicy foods
    • Garlic, onion, peppermint, chocolate
    • Acidic foods (e.g., tomatoes, citrus fruits)
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t sleep on your back – sleeping on your left side may be better than your right side

There are also effective medications that can be used to help control GERD. These can include antacids and prescription medications that either reduce the amount of stomach acid produced or reduce the acidity level. Surgery is sometimes tried, but usually only if other strategies are not working.

If you think you might have GERD, see your healthcare provider. If you have any questions, call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) and speak with a certified respiratory educator, email info@lungontario.ca or visit lungontario.ca.

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Gear up your family for fighting winter germs

Between kids being home for winter break, holiday stress and a stronger-than-normal cold and flu season predicted, preventing sickness is top of mind for most of us this right now. That’s why it’s important to know how germs spread and what you can do to stay healthy all winter long. For example, did you know there are vaccines that protect against pneumonia?

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a common illness affecting people of all ages. Some of the germs that cause it are easily spread from one person to another. They are carried in the nose and throat of an infected person, so when an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spray drops of infected saliva into the air around them. A person who breathes in that air can then become infected themselves.

Pneumonia can affect anyone and can cause fever, breathing difficulties and chest pain. It can also land you in the hospital. Fortunately, there are many easy things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Regular exercise, adequate sleep and a healthy diet can strengthen your immune system.
  • If you smoke, try to quit – smoke damages the natural defenses in your lungs that protect you from infections.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands regularly – when soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
  • If you have an underlying condition that increases your risk of pneumonia – like COPD, asthma, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis – make sure it’s we well controlled as possible.
  • If you are at a higher risk of getting pneumonia (those who smoke, those with an existing respiratory illness, children younger than five and adults 65 and older) and you get a cough, fever or have shrotness of breath, see your healthcare provider right away.
  • There are two pneumonia vaccines. For the best protection against pneumococcal pneumonia, adults should speak to their healthcare provider about getting both.

If you do become sick, you can help prevent the spread of infections by regularly cleaning common areas of your home, like door handles, light switches, hand rails, taps, remote controls and keyboards. If you have a cold or the flu, stay home and be sure to sneeze and cough into a tissue and throw it away right after use and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze and cough into your sleeve.

Learn more at lungontario.ca/vaccines.

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How exactly can you catch the flu?

Influenza, or the flu, is a very contagious infection caused by viruses. We all know it can cause a mild to severe infection in the nose, sinuses, throat and lungs. But there are some misconceptions on what the flu is, how you can catch it, and how to treat and prevent it. With the risk of infections increasing in the fall and peaking in the winter, The Lung Association shares some essential information on this seasonal headache.

It is estimated that between 10 to 20 per cent of Canadians are infected with the flu each year, causing 175,000 emergency room visits, 12,200 influenza-related hospitalizations and even 3,500 influenza-related deaths. That’s why now is a good time to consider how a simple shot could go a long way with your health. In Ontario alone, every year the flu shot eliminates approximately 30,000 visits to hospital emergency departments and prevents approximately 300 deaths.

For people aged 65 years and over, the risk for influenza-attributed death is 12 times greater among those with chronic lung diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 20 times greater among those with both chronic heart and lung conditions. And, this year, the high-dose flu vaccine is being offered to seniors for free in Ontario.

After stroke and congestive heart failure, influenza and pneumonia (a complication of influenza) are the leading causes of catastrophic disability — a devastating illness or accident that can leave you requiring extra assistance that you didn’t need before.

The flu shot is highly recommended for high-risk groups with the highest influenza rates, including children ages five to nine, adults 65 years and older, and those with underlying medical conditions. Different vaccination options are available for seniors.

Here are common ways you can get infected with the flu virus, so you know what to avoid:

  • When someone infected with the flu talks, sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets of secretions become airborne. These droplets can land in your nose, mouth, sinuses or lungs and cause an infection.
  • Touching a surface that is infected with the flu virus (door handles, light switches, hand rails), then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
  • Sharing infected objects (utensils, cup) with someone who has the flu infection.

Find more information at lungontario.ca/vaccines.

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Uncovering the Gaps to Better Diagnose and Treat Lung Disease

The Lung Association is embarking on two pan-Canadian projects aimed at learning more about the challenges that exist in properly diagnosing and treating people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. The results of these will help us shape an environment that will support greater patient access and provide a strong base for our advocacy efforts with government.

Helping the Missing Million

An estimated 1.6 million Canadians live with COPD, yet it is believed almost as many have COPD and don’t know it. It is now the third leading cause of death in Canada. This is a disease that places a tremendous burden on patients, caregivers and the healthcare system.

Moving the Dial on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asthma

When looking at a patient’s journey with asthma, there are many gaps that arise in terms of how and when they are diagnosed right through to how they are treated. Issues such as access to spirometry respirologists and medications all come into play, as do things like taking medications as prescribed, having a proper understanding of the disease and use of care plans.

Stay tuned for our findings that will be revealed on January 24, 2019.

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With winter approaching, it’s time to get your home tested for radon.

Radon is a colourless, odourless gas that is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and can seep into a home through drains, pipes, and cracks and crevices in the foundation. All homes have some level of radon. The question is how much and the only way to know is to test.

Testing for radon is simple, convenient and inexpensive. With do-it-yourself kits, it’s easy to follow the instructions included and test your home. Everyone should be testing their home, especially during the winter months.

To kick off a new partnership with Radon Environment Management Corp, The Lung Association has launched a revamped online ordering system, equipped with a new webpage, new test kit options (short term, long term, and combo packs) and new alpha track detectors from Radon Environmental. Detector analysis is performed using a state-of-the-art image scanner at a C-NRPP accredited laboratory.

If it turns out your radon levels exceed the recommended guideline of 200 becquerels/m3, we advise installation of an active radon reduction system by a certified radon mitigation professional.

An active radon reduction system is a permanently installed pipe-and-fan system that places a direct vacuum on the soil beneath the house’s foundation, constantly reducing the amount of radon under the foundation that can penetrate into the living space of the home.

To learn more about radon testing and to purchase a test kit online, homeowners can visit  lungontario.ca/radon. Short and long term radon tests include delivery of confidential lab test results.

We spend a good portion of our day at work where we may be exposed to radon. If you are a small business owner, you may be eligible for free radon testing as part of a provincial radon research project. Find out if this offer applies to you.

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Support The Lung Association this holiday season through our Christmas Seals

With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are thinking about family dinners, playing outside in the snow and opening gifts together. This holiday season, think about giving the best gift there is to give – the gift of breath.
Christmas Seals

One stormy December night in 1903, a postman named Einar Holboell was working late in a post office on the outskirts of Copenhagen. He was sorting great piles of Christmas mail. Suddenly he had an idea. Just suppose that every letter or parcel carried an extra stamp and the money from the tens of thousands of such stamps went to help unfortunate children. What a blessing it would be!

Christmas of 1904 the seals went on sale. The campaign was even more successful than the postmen had hoped. They decided that the children in most distress were the hundreds, even perhaps thousands, who were crippled by tuberculosis (TB).

With funds from the first two Christmas Seal campaigns, they started building two hospitals for treatment of children with tuberculosis. This was a turning point in the world history of this disease because it was the beginning of the movement to get ordinary citizens to take part in fighting an infectious disease, one, which at that time was the leading cause of death, outstripping even wars and famines.

By the next Christmas, news of the Danes’ campaign had reached Canada. Year by year other cities across Canada tried the Christmas Seal campaign as a means not only of raising money but of creating the awareness that tuberculosis could be controlled.

Though tuberculosis is not the threat to life and health it was even 50 years ago, there are still about 1,600 new cases each year in Canada. In the meantime other diseases of the lungs, though not infectious, have increased enormously. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and asthma make breathing difficult for millions of Canadians.

Christmas Seals are still as relevant today as they were in 1903. Funds are now used to fund research for cures and new treatments for people with life threatening lung diseases. Learn more or donate today.

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Helping your voice be heard

If you are living with lung disease or are a caregiver of someone with lung disease, we are looking get valuable input from you.

We are asking for a few minutes of your time to complete the survey below. This survey will give us a better understanding of how lung disease affects your day-to-day life and what is most important to you when considering new drug therapies.

By completing the survey, you will ensure we have the information we need to advocate on your behalf when a drug is up for review in Ontario. As a patient advocacy group, The Lung Association regularly makes submissions on behalf of patient groups. The goal of these submissions is to help patients experience a better quality of life and improved lung function when new treatments become available.

Complete the survey here!

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News and Events

Steeltown Climb | Saturday, November 10, 2018 (Hamilton)

Join us at the 100 King Street West tower and climb 26 storeys while making a real difference in the lives of those affected by lung disease. Register now!

World Pneumonia Day | November 12, 2018

This day provides an annual forum for the world to stand together and demand action in the fight against pneumonia. Learn more about pneumonia.

World COPD Day | November 21, 2018

This day aims to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and improve COPD care throughout the world. The theme year is “never too early, never too late.” Learn more about COPD.

TB Conference | November 20-21, 2018
Chelsea Hotel, 33 Gerrard Street West, Toronto

The goal of our TB conference is to provide advanced information to healthcare providers on the challenges of TB elimination in the local, national and global context. Health and social service professionals and others working with populations at high risk of TB in such fields as medicine, nursing, public health, community health, infection control, institutional health, communicable disease and correctional services will be attending this conference. New this year, keynote speaker, Stephen Lewis, will take the stage to kick things off. Register today.

Better Breathing 2019 | January 24-26 , 2019

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to participate in a range of innovative sessions headed by leading medical professionals. Learn about new approaches to respiratory health, updates on critical research projects and relevant case studies. Over the course of the conference, you will gain exclusive access to more than 25 dynamic sessions, engage with industry-leading experts and network with 300 of your peers in the respiratory field.

To register or learn more, visit betterbreathing.ca

Breath of Spring | February 25 – March 8, 2019

For the past 20 years, The Lung Association has been running its Breath of Spring campaign with resounding success thanks to the incredible efforts of volunteers across the province. As part of this campaign, we will sell tulips, our signature flower – which is low fragrance and non-allergenic – as well as crispy wave ferns, which have been shown to remove harmful particles from the air. Both are perfect gifts for family and friends, or a fresh addition to your desk – and a wonderful way to support the work of The Lung Association!

Get involved by ordering your tulips or crispy wave ferns today or volunteering.

Breathe! Bash | Save the Date | March 28, 2019

It’s the 10th anniversary of our Breathe! Gala and we’re shaking things up! The 2019 Breathe! Bash will be held at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in downtown Toronto. It will be an evening to celebrate, to be inspired and to have fun. And, we’re thrilled to announce that Sick Boy and his crew will be our emcees for the evening!

If interested in sponsorship opportunities, please contact Amy Rice at arice@lungontario.ca

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Using sputum to treat steroid resistant severe asthma

Through his translational research, Dr. Parameswaran Nair has seen tremendous benefits and improvements in the quality of life in the patients he serves. They are able to return to work, their breathing improves, and both their respiratory and overall health improves. This is the most rewarding part of the work he does.

What Dr. Nair and his team are doing differently compared to many other centres is they are assessing inflammation in every patient they see with a complex airway disease by collecting and analyzing their sputum. They start with a simple cell count to know what the cellularity of sputum is. Based on that they try to understand the immunological processes that lead to the accumulation of a particular cell such as eosinophil or neutrophil in sputum. They then build on that by trying to understanding the pathways that lead to these processes and then come up with treatments that block those pathways in an individual patient.

Their research aims to understand why some patients with severe asthma who have persistent eosinophils do not get better with steroids. Steroid dependent asthma fortunately affects only a small proportion of patients with asthma – about five per cent – but those are the most severe. They have the poorest quality of life both from the disease and the side effects of prednisone. They also consume the highest number of resources.
This particular study tests the hypothesis that the recurrent infections that some of the patients get may be directly contributing to their steroid insensitivity.

Dr. Nair and his team have some evidence to suggest that certain immunological processes set in motion by bacterial infections can cause the release of certain proteins that interfere with the way glucocorticoids, such as prednisone, bind to the receptor and dampen down the inflammatory process.
The funding they receive from The Lung Association – Ontario is helping them understand the biology of one of those proteins, which they think it critical in mediating this process. Within a year or so, they are hoping that based on the data collected from this study they will be able to start a clinical trial. The objective of the trial would be to block this protein to make patients who get recurrent infections respond better to corticosteroids and eventually they could decrease the frequency of these infections.

“This would be a tremendous improvement in the way we currently provide healthcare because these strategies not only would be very effective, but would be significantly cheaper than what we currently have to offer.”

See more of Dr. Nair’s research here.

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