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Spotlight on Asthma: April 2017


ASuitcasesthma and Travel

There can be many challenges with traveling when you have asthma. Do your research and prepare well in advance. Here are some of the transportation, destination, and accommodation challenges you may face. Read More

World asthma day logoWorld Asthma Day 2017

World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. This year it is being held on Tuesday May 2, 2017. Read More

Do you or a loved one live with asthma?Free Webinar – World Asthma Day

On World Asthma Day, Tuesday May 2, 2017, you are invited to a free online presentation “What you need to know about asthma”. This is an opportunity for you to learn valuable information from experts about how to better manage your asthma. Download/view webinar invitation (PDF)

Tree plantingHow many trees can you plant this year?

Ontario’s Green Leaf Challenge, launched in March 2017, calls on the public to get involved in making the province a greener, cleaner place to live. The initiative is supported by Forests Ontario and the province, and honours Ontario’s 150th anniversary. Each year, Ontario plants approximately three million trees under its 50 Million Tree Program(50MTP), and the government is now challenging the public to match its target in 2017. View Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry news release


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Asthma & Travel

There can be many challenges with traveling when you have asthma. Do your research and prepare well in advance. Here are some of the transportation, destination, and accommodation challenges you may face.

Transportation

  • If traveling outside Canada, your transportation Suitcase(e.g., airplane, bus, train) may not be smoke-free
  • You will likely be exposed to scented products in transportation systems
  • Some airlines still serve peanuts and other nuts which can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in some people
  • Since some airlines allow pets on airplanes, you may be exposed to pet allergens
  • Emergency medical services are not generally available during transportation
  • Air travel may affect some people who have chronic health conditions such as asthma because the air is thinner when flying at higher altitudes.

Destination
Air pollution

  • For various reasons (e.g., less strict pollution regulations), some countries have higher levels of air pollution.
  • Some less developed countries and rural areas have less pavement and more dirt roads, which can create road dust.
  • Coal is used for home heating and cooking in many countries, producing indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Allergens

  • If you will be in natural settings on your vacation (e.g., camping, hiking), you can be exposed to higher pollen, humidity and mould levels.
  • Types and levels of pollen and mould, and their seasonal patterns, vary throughout the world.

Smoking

  • Smoking is more common in some countries and may be allowed in public places including airports, restaurants, etc. (WORLD SMOKING RATES)

Other potential issues

  • For people with asthma, scuba diving can sometimes be a risk. Ask your health-care provider for advice before planning this activity.
  • If you are going to a cold climate, be aware that cold air can trigger asthma symptoms in some people, especially during outdoor physical activity.
  • If you are going to higher altitudes, be aware that there is less oxygen the higher you go. There is also a risk of getting altitude sickness at higher altitudes, which can be dangerous.

Accommodation

  • In some areas of the world (including in Canada), wood fires are used for heating and cooking in accommodations and restaurants, which can expose you to smoke.
  • Tropical regions have more indoor and outdoor moulds due to higher humidity.
  • In some accommodations you may be exposed to indoor triggers such as second-hand smoke and pet allergens. Ask about their smoking and pet policies.

Tips for a Healthy Holiday
Preparation

  • Ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date, including flu and pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccines.
  • Before your holiday, you may wish to speak with your health-care provider, especially if you have moderate to severe asthma. Make sure that you have a written asthma action plan from your health-care provider, to help guide you in managing your asthma.
  • If you are travelling outside the province or country, make sure that you have enough medical insurance to cover you in case of a need for medical care.
  • Find out where the nearest emergency medical services are located at your destination so that you are prepared in case you have an asthma attack.
  • If you are traveling by airplane, find out the carry-on baggage security measures with respect to your medications. Here are some examples of resources you can check:

Medications

  • Ensure that you have an adequate supply of medications for your whole trip plus some extra in case of any delays.
  • Bring needed medications with you in the airplane cabin (e.g., emergency asthma and allergy medications)
  • Keep your medications in their original containers.
  • Make sure that all of your medications are labeled with your name. You can also ask your pharmacist to print out a list of all of your medications or have your health-care provider write a letter explaining your need for the medications.
  • If you are using a nebulizer/compressor to take your asthma medications, make sure that it works in the country you are visiting. Electrical plugs and voltages vary around the world.
  • Even if your symptoms improve while you are on holiday, do not decrease or stop your medications without guidance from your health-care provider.

Triggers

Find out what kind of triggers you may encounter at your destination:

  • Check air pollution and pollen forecasts
  • Check weather forecasts — Hot and humid?  Cold?
  • Accommodations — Is air conditioning available?  Are pets allowed?
  • Is smoking allowed indoors?

Prepare for any possible asthma-related transportation, destination, and accommodation challenges you may face on your trip. Have a plan in place to handle any issues so that you have an enjoyable and safe vacation.

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World Asthma Day 2017

World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. This year it is being held on Tuesday May 2, 2017. Asthma affects 300 million people worldwide. Over two million Ontario residents – including one in five children – now live with asthma, a chronic inflammatory lung disease that can be fatal. Join The Lung Association and many other organizations around the world in raising awareness about asthma on World Asthma Day.

On World Asthma Day The Lung Association is highlighting a new asthma program for students. The Lung Association and its partner, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, have developed an innovative after school program, Play for All, to help tackle the challenge of physical activity among students with asthma.

Students who have asthma often see the disease as a barrier to being physically active. There is growing evidence that shows activity levels among children and youth with asthma are lower than their peers without asthma.

“Poorly controlled asthma can limit a child’s ability to play, exercise and sleep – all critical to his or her development. Uncontrolled asthma can also lead to a child withdrawing from physical activity and sport. When asthma is well managed and well controlled, however, children who have asthma should be able to participate fully in all activities,” says George Habib, President and CEO of The Lung Association – Ontario.

Open to students from grades one to six, with or without asthma, Play for All combines education on lung health, asthma awareness and the importance of physical activity. Students have a hands-on experience with more than 20 lung health activities over a 12 week period. They also have the opportunity to engage family and friends in what they are learning.

By involving students who do not suffer from asthma, Play for All is able to create empathy among them. Netonia Henry-Grant, a student at Cecil B Stirling School, noticed a friend of hers coughing on the playground one cold day. She remembered that cold weather is an asthma trigger so she lent her scarf to her friend and told her to keep it over her mouth and nose.

Play for All helps students take control of their breathing by teaching self-management skills, promoting physical activity and fundamental movement skills, and offering a safe and supportive exercise environment.

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