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Breathing Space Newsletter – Fall 2019

Your Fall Lung Health Checklist

The air is crisp, the leaves are changing. Have you checked in with your lungs lately?

1. Keep things scent-free. 

It’s tempting to celebrate autumn’s arrival with cozy-scented candles and body care products. But for many people with conditions like asthma or COPD, scented products can trigger symptoms – and even attacks.  We suggest you enjoy your pumpkin spice in your latte and not in your air

2. Order your radon test kit.

Did you know that it’s the perfect time of year to test your home for cancer-causing radon gas? Order your testing kit here for as little as $30.

3. Review your asthma action plan.

If you have asthma, your plan is your lifeline. As the seasons change, you may experience new triggers – like wood smoke or certain kinds of pollen. Review your plan so you know what to do if your symptoms flare this fall.

4. Move your workouts inside.

Finding ways to stay active indoors is especially important if you have a lung condition that flares up due to cold air. You may enjoy our at-home workout module for people living with lung disease.

5. Reduce your risk of getting sick – really sick.

Vaccines are your best defense against the flu and pneumococcal pneumonia, as well as their potentially serious complications.And if you’re over 65, you should consult your doctor about receiving the high dose flu vaccine for extra protection. NOTE: The flu vaccine will be available in mid to late October.

Remember, our Lung Health Line is open year-round, and certified respiratory educators are standing by to answer your questions and help you breathe your best.  From the staff and volunteers at the Ontario Lung Association, we wish you a happy and healthy autumn!


Fighting flu through innovation

As we enter flu season, it’s time to think about what we can do to protect Ontarians from this potentially deadly illness. We all know that the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get your seasonal flu shot. But last year, only 38.3% of adults 65 or younger rolled up their sleeves. Could cultivating innovations in influenza vaccine technology be the key to increasing vaccine uptake, and keeping more people healthy?

This past spring, we convened an expert roundtable as part of our Breathing Policy Forum series to discuss the next innovations in seasonal influenza vaccine and what policymakers can do to make sure Ontarians can benefit from them. Our white paper, Paving the Way for Immunization Innovation, summarized our experts’ ideas and recommendations, which include:

  • Harmonizing vaccine funding across Canada;
  • Elevating effectiveness studies so we can understand the real-world impact of new and existing vaccines;
  • Improving and standardizing vaccine delivery; and
  • Effectively building public awareness.

Want to learn more about some upcoming advancements in flu vaccine technology? Click here to download our white paper.

Get the flu facts

The Ontario Lung Association is going live – Facebook live, that is – on  October 24 to give you the information you need to reduce your flu risk. In addition to busting myths about vaccination, our expert panel will answer your questions live!  Be sure to “like” our Facebook page so you’ll be alerted when our broadcast begins.

Radon 101: shield your home, protect your family

Caused by the breakdown of uranium in the soil, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It’s linked to 850 deaths in Ontario each year, and yet 96% of us still don’t test for it!

Seeping into the house through drains, cracks and crevices in the foundation, this radioactive gas escapes detection because it is both colourless and odourless. Luckily, we can take action to protect ourselves.

Step 1: Test your home and/or workplace for dangerous radon levels. You can purchase a test kit here. Fall is the perfect time to get your 90-day test started.

Step 2: If high levels are found, consult a certified radon professional to explore your options for mitigation solutions. These include specialized exhaust fan systems.

Watch radon mitigation professionals at work:

Tips for Asthma-Safe travel

Heading out of town to celebrate Thanksgiving, or dreaming of a warm-weather vacation when winter hits? Be prepared for all of life’s adventures by keeping your asthma under control and anticipating possible new asthma triggers. Read on for some quick tips.

  • Keep all of your medication with you on the plane, in case your luggage gets lost. Bring enough for the whole trip, and keep your meds in their original containers.
  • Make sure you have adequate traveller’s insurance to cover you in case of an asthma attackor an asthma emergency.Find out where the nearest emergency medical services are located at your destination so that you are prepared if you have an asthma attack/asthma emergency.
  • Bring your asthma action plan along!

Click here for more tips and considerations for safe asthma travel. Bon voyage!

 

Meet the Toker

How much do you know about cannabis and its effects on lung health? Our bold new comic book-inspired awareness campaign is bringing increased respiratory awareness to the 16% of Canadians who regularly use cannabis. In addition to unmasking the risks, we are giving cannabis users practical tips that will reduce their risk of damaging their lungs.  Follow the (misguided) adventures of the Toker and learn what’s really lurking in cannabis smoke by visiting thetokeronline.ca.

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In Case You Missed it: a Breathing Policy Forum exploring patient group advocacy

On September 18th, the Ontario Lung Association hosted Patient Group Engagement in Public Policy: the convergence of experience, influence and opportunity. The latest in our Breathing Policy Forum series, it covered two topic areas: patient engagement throughout the drug approval process, and how patient groups should be represented in a national pharmacare framework.

The speakers and audience discussed how to improve the dialogue and consultation process between regulators and patient groups, how we can elevate the patient experience and position patients groups as experts, and the challenges and opportunities with the proposed national pharmacare framework from a patient engagement perspective.

Look out for our white paper which will outline key recommendations for government in these areas, coming later this year.

Your Dollars, Your Impact

What Dr. Dawn Bowdish Knows about Your Nose and Pneumonia

Older adults are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia, a lung infection that remains the sixth leading cause of death in Canada. Because vaccination requires an intact immune system, it’s not always effective in older adults – so researchers like Dr. Bowdish are thinking outside the box and looking for solutions that will help further protect older adults.

The most frequent cause of pneumonia is a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Before infection, this bacteria colonizes the nasopharynx by binding to the cells that line the sinuses so it can spread to the lung, bloodstream or meninges. What if we could develop an inexpensive and effective probiotic treatment that prevents colonization and infection in older adults?

Thanks to funding from the Ontario Lung Association, Dr. Bowdish and her team are investigating whether the respiratory tract microbiome could be altered to protect against the spread of S. pneumoniae. With an aging population, the outcomes of studies like this could be an essential step towards keeping older adults healthy and active in their communities.

Lung Health Alert: the vaping epidemic

The first known case of vaping-related illness in Canada was reported in London, Ontario in mid-September, after an increasingly worrying trend of similar illnesses (and even deaths) stateside.

And so it is with great urgency that we are calling for stricter restrictions around the sale and advertising of vaping related products. The flavors available, the perception of safety and increasing public acceptance of vaping is increasing the demand for these products among youth, whose vaping rates are rapidly on the rise with a 74% jump in youth vaping seen between 2017-2018.

Click here to read the Ontario Lung Association’s full statement, and our advice to the provincial and federal government governments on tackling the vaping epidemic.

News and events

News & Events

Today, one in five Canadians have lung disease, but all of us need to breathe. That’s the driving force behind all of our special events and local campaigns. Get involved today by raising funds and awareness in your community. Choose from a variety of events that appeal to your interests and physical abilities. We know you’ll find one (or more) to enjoy, along with friends, family and co-workers.

Flu Facts on Facebook live

October 24 | live digital event

Can the flu shot give you the flu? How effective is the flu shot, and is it “worth it”? We’re going live on October 24 with an expert panel, including a caregiver who’s helped their family member survive hospitalization due to influenza. Make sure you’re a part of our Facebook community so you get the notification!

Steeltown Stairclimb

November 9, 2019 | Hamilton

Registration is now open! Please join our 93 year old Ambassador and stair climber Walter Decker on Saturday, November 9 in recognition of Lung Month, and to honour and help those who struggle to breathe.

Festival of Trees

November 21 to 24, 2019 | The Machine Shop, Sault Ste. Marie

Guests of all ages will be delighted by the festive Forest of Trees. Why not bid on a silent auction item in our beautifully decorated Winter Wonderland, or try your luck with donated raffle items? There’s something festive for everyone!

Lobby Day 2019

December 11, 2019 | Queen’s Park, Toronto

Advocate for your breath! In addition to our lunch reception, we will be scheduling meetings throughout the day with MPPs to discuss key policy issues surrounding lung disease. For more information or to get involved contact our Policy and Public Affairs Associate at jsopher@lungontario.ca.

Better Breathing Conference 2020

Save the date: January 24 to 25, 2020 | Toronto

Back for its 37th year, Better Breathing is an excellent opportunity for healthcare providers to learn about new approaches to respiratory health, get updates on critical research projects and discuss relevant case studies. Stay tuned: our registration opens on Friday, October 4! Read testimonials and learn more about the conference here.

 

Are you a healthcare provider looking for webinars and workshops? Click here to browse our upcoming Clinical Practice & Education events.  In early October we’ll be learning about COPD in Markham, exploring COPD + asthma comorbidity in Hamilton,  enriching our knowledge of lung cancer screening and lung health partnerships in Sudbury, and more!