Get Help

Call the Lung Health Information Line

1-888-344-LUNG (5864)

Our certified respiratory
educators are ready to take your questions
(M-F 8:30am-4:30pm)

Breathing Space Newsletter- Summer 2018

Be Air Aware and 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, like asthma, 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:

  1. Check the current and forecast maximums in your community at www.airhealth.ca or by downloading the app.
  2. Follow the AQHI health messages based on whether or not you are in the “at risk population”
  3. Avoid areas that have a higher pollution level, such as near major roads
  4. Exercise indoors if the AQHI level is too high
  5. No missed regular activities or school or work
  6. As your healthcare provider about protecting your lungs when air quality is poor
  7. Sign up for air quality alerts here or hear recorded messages at 1-800-387-7768 or 416-246-0411 (local in Toronto)

Learn more about the AQHI by visiting lungontario.ca/aqhi


Keep Asthma Under Control this Summer

Breathe easy this summer

It’s that time of year that everyone anticipates but if your child suffers from asthma, keeping it under control during the summer months is necessary to ensure a safe and active break from school. Read more

Week 38 – The Asthma September Spike

Protect your breathing during September Spike

Every year, around the third week of September, there is an increase in asthma attacks in Ontario students. It is known as the “September Spike”. Read more

A Need for Lung Health Support Groups

If you have been diagnosed with a lung disease such as COPD or pulmonary fibrosis, you may be interested in joining or starting a support group. Read more

News and Events

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

Your Dollars, Your Impact

Using sound waves to measure lung function

Dr. Chung-Wai Chow, Respirologist and Clinician Scientist at the University Health Network at the University of Toronto wants to help more people breathe. Read more


Keep Asthma Under Control this Summer

Breathe easy this summer

It’s that time of year that everyone anticipates — weekend getaways to the cottage, playing outdoors all day long and fun family trips. But if your child suffers from asthma, keeping it under control during the summer months is necessary to ensure they have a safe and active break from school. Planning ahead and taking precautions helps to reduce their risks. Beware of summer asthma triggers such as pets, food allergens, campfire smoke, air pollution, mould in the forest, and dust and mould in the cottage. Remember that air quality in a cottage or cabin at summer camp may not be as easy to monitor as it can be at home.

Here are some tips from The Lung Association to help your child take control of their breathing:

  • Air out the cottage before you spend time inside.
  • Take medications as prescribed.
  • Develop a written action plan with your healthcare provider.
  • Keep a fast-acting reliever inhaler (usually a blue one) handy and pack an extra just in case.
  • Check the air quality health index forecast.
  • Before you travel, find the nearest emergency medical service at your destination.

Asthma doesn’t take a holiday, so managing it while away is just as important as it is when at home. If you are sending your child to camp, share their action plan with the staff. Camp staff should have key information, including which medication is taken daily and which is for emergencies, which triggers can cause their asthma symptoms, which signs and symptoms may indicate that they are having an asthma attack, and who are their emergency contacts.

If you have any questions, call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG, where you can speak to a certified respiratory educator.

Back to top


Week 38 – The Asthma September Spike

Protect your breathing during September Spike

Every year, around the third week of September, there is an increase in asthma attacks in Ontario students.  It is known as the “September Spike” since there is an increase in visits to emergency departments and doctors’ offices in the weeks after the start of the school year.  For the one in five Ontario students who have asthma, it is recommended to take extra care at this time of year to reduce their risks.

Researchers have found that the main reason for this increase is cold viruses that spread quickly when students are in close contact with each other in classrooms, schoolyards and buses.  It is also suspected that over the summer months many children have interrupted their regular asthma management schedule, leading to a loss of asthma control.  Other possible causes for September flare-ups include indoor and outdoor mould and seasonal pollen (e.g., ragweed).

Effective asthma management requires daily effort.  Parents can help to ensure that their child’s asthma is kept under control with the following steps:

  • If your child doesn’t already have a written “asthma action plan”, ask your health-care provider to complete one for you.  The asthma action plan helps guide you on what steps to take if asthma symptoms start. Download The Lung Association asthma action plan for children.
  • Make sure your child is taking their asthma controller medication as prescribed.  Any symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath can mean asthma is not under control.
  • Children should have quick access to their fast-acting reliever inhaler at all times.  The reliever inhaler, which is usually blue in colour, can quickly help to relieve symptoms.  Under Ryan’s Law, Ontario schools must allow children to carry their asthma medication, with the permission of a parent or guardian.  Find school asthma resources and more information at www.RyansLaw.ca.
  • Teach your children how to avoid infections by washing their hands regularly.  Use hand sanitizer when a sink is not available.
  • Every member of your family should get the flu shot every year.  The flu shot reduces your own risk but also the risk to others.

For more information on how to keep your child’s asthma under control, 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.

Back to top


A Need for Lung Health Support Groups

If you have been diagnosed with a lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis, you may be interested in joining or starting a lung health support group. A support group can offer you a place to share your thoughts with others, as well as support and empathy only people affected by lung disease can understand. The camaraderie you experience will help you realize that you are not alone in this journey.

Being with other people who have similar challenges can make being diagnosed with a chronic disease less scary. Lung health support groups can provide many benefits including:

  • Bringing people together who have common experiences or concerns
  • A place to discuss your own journey of living with lung disease, how it has affected your life, and ways you have overcome the challenges
  • Providing and receiving encouragement, comfort and advice

Support group meetings can include a guest speaker. Topics covered will vary depending on the lung diseases of concern.

Suggested topics include:

  • Lung irritants such as air pollution and smoke
  • Breathing techniques
  • Dealing with stress
  • Energy conservation and fatigue
  • Importance of exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Management plan and preventing flare-ups
  • Medication and inhalation devices
  • Secretion clearance and cough techniques
  • Supplemental oxygen

There are not enough support groups in Ontario.  If you are interested in helping to start a lung health support group in your community, please contact Jody Hamilton, Manager Patient Engagement & Community Programs, The Lung Association at jhamilton@lungontario.ca.

Visit our Lung Health Support Groups in Ontario page to check if there’s a support group in your area.

Back to top


News and Events

TB Conference  |  November 20-21, 2018
Chelsea Hotel, 33 Gerard 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. To learn more visit the TB website!

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!

Better Breathing 2019 |  January 25-27, 2019

The Lung Association’s Better Breathing Conference brings together health-care professionals from many disciplines all focused on the respiratory health of the people of Ontario.

To register or learn more, visit betterbreathing.ca 

Breathe! Bash |  Thursday, 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.

Click here for event details!

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

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.

 

Back to top


Your Dollars, Your Impact

Using sound waves to measure lung function

Dr. Chung-Wai Chow, Respirologist and Clinician Scientist at the University Health Network at the University of Toronto wants to help more people breathe. Whether it’s through basic research or clinical studies, the outcomes she has seen – and continues to see – is allowing patients to live longer. It’s allowing them to do many things they didn’t think they could do. It has allowed some of them to start families and others to live longer to see their grandchildren be born. Some have been able to have careers they otherwise would not have had.

For many years, The Lung Association has supported Dr. Chow’s fundamental research to initiate pre-clinical studies. Some of these studies have looked at specific physiologic changes in different models of asthma or airways inflammation. One specific study used a ventilated based machine to measure lung function. The fundamental concept of this machine is now being applied in clinical studies looking at ways of detecting small airway obstruction.

As a result of funding from The Lung Association, Dr. Chow now can study a machine that uses oscillometry to detect changes in airway resistance and impedance. The concept of force oscillometry is that because it transmits sound waves of different frequencies it can actually detect changes in the small airways more sensitively than spirometry.

The current study Dr. Chow is conducting compares very directly oscillometry to spirometry in its ability to detect small airway changes. The whole concept being evaluated is that Dr. Chow believes oscillometry will allow her and her team to detect changes much earlier, which could then allow them to make a diagnosis earlier and most importantly, treat earlier. Spirometry is a gold standard, but it doesn’t detect changes in the small airways until most of the small airways are completely obstructed.

“My basic research wouldn’t be as meaningful if I wasn’t able to see a real outcome in terms of making people’s lives better – making them less ill and giving them a better quality of life”.

Back to top