Summer 2019

Let’s beat “the Spike” together, Ontario!

Summer is far from over, but parents everywhere know that back-to-school season is just around the corner. For the families of the one in five children who live with asthma, August is the best time of year to set up healthy habits that will prevent asthma flare-ups in the classroom and on the playground come September.

Why do asthma attacks happen more often – or “spike” – in September?

Experts think that the cold virus is the main cause of asthma flare-ups in September. When kids go back to school, it’s back to close quarters with classmates – and the viruses they carry. Viruses like the common cold are the #1 cause of asthma flare-ups in children.

It is also suspected that kids may be returning to school with poorly managed asthma if they’ve spent the summer out of their regular asthma management routine. Other possible reasons for flare-ups? Allergic triggers at school, like mould and dust, or even seasonal outdoor triggers like pollen.

1. Fill out an Asthma Action Plan. Ask your healthcare provider to complete one for you. The plan covers things like how to adjust your child’s medication according to their symptoms. Download The Lung Association’s template here.

2. Make sure your child is taking their asthma controller medication as prescribed. These medicines need to be taken consistently, even if your child isn’t showing symptoms. Need a refresher on proper technique? View our new kids’ inhaler video series here.

3. Children should have access to their fast-acting reliever inhaler at all times. The reliever inhaler (or “puffer”), which is usually blue, widens the airways and reduces symptoms fast during an asthma attack. Thanks to Ryan’s Law, schools must allow kids to carry their inhalers with them, as long as they have permission from a parent or guardian.

4. Scrub-a-dub! Teach your child the correct way to wash their hands with soap and warm water.  It’s the easiest way to stop the spread of the germs that could make them sick.

5. Plan to get the flu shot. If you have a child with asthma, it’s extra important that every member of the family gets protected against influenza. Ask your doctor or pharmacist when the shots will be available – usually as early as October.

Remember, our Lung Health Line is open year-round, and Certified Respiratory Educators are standing by to give you the advice you need to beat the September Spike.

From the staff and volunteers at the Lung Health Foundation , we wish you a happy and healthy end to summer 2019!

Inside this issue of Breathing Space: Let’s beat the September Spike, Ontario! Protect your breathing when the heat gets extreme Fitness for Breath: coming soon to a livingroom near you Introducing our new (and improved!) downloadable resources Public education spotlight: What the Vape?!?! The Exceptional Access Program is going digital! Your Dollars, Your Impact The BREATHE EASY raffle New ways to give: Shop4Charity News & Events

Protect your breathing when the heat gets extreme

The Lung Health Foundation may be preparing for autumn, there is still a lot of summer left to enjoy, too! Protect your lungs during hot weather with these tips.

If you have an existing lung condition, keep taking your medications as prescribed. Keep your rescue inhaler (usually a blue puffer) close by, as you would if you knew you’d be encountering any other flare-up trigger.

Find creative ways to cool down.  Stay in air conditioned spaces if you can. Keep air moving by using fans throughout your home. Wear light coloured, loose clothing and a hat protect you from the hot sun while outdoors. Reach for meals that don’t require using the stove, like salads and sandwiches. Take a cool bath or shower. If you can travel, an air conditioned shopping mall or community centre is a good place to move your daily walk.

Take it easy. It’s important to conserve your energy. If you have a lung condition like COPD, your body uses a lot of energy just to breathe. When you add in the effects of the heat and the extra work your body has to do to maintain a normal temperature. you may feel a bit depleted.

Stay hydrated. Leave a glass by the sink to remind you to sip frequently, or invest in a water bottle for when you’re on-the-go. Upping your intake of hydrating fruits and vegetables is another good way to prevent dehydration.
Keep an eye on the AQHI.  The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) can help you to monitor outdoor air quality and adjust your outdoor activity accordingly. On those days when you know that smog levels will be high, you may decide to limit your time spent outdoors and exercise indoors. While smoggy days can happen year ’round, they are especially common in the summer when high temperatures can cause the air to become stagnant (not moving around).
Heat stroke is a medical emergency!

Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you are caring for someone who has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating.

Fitness for Breath: coming soon to a livingroom near you

People living with chronic lung disease are caught in a difficult cycle –  exercise is essential for strengthening their lungs, but their illness prevents them from participating in regular fitness programs. That’s why we developed Fitness for Breath, an innovative model for exercise maintenance for people with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. In partnership with fitness centres and with the support of pulmonary rehabilitation programs, it has been introduced across the province. And now for the first time ever, you can follow along with our gentle workouts in the comfort of your own home! 

We recognize that traveling to a fitness centre is a challenge for some Ontarians – and that while our Fitness for Breath program is expanding, some communities still don’t have a Fitness for Breath site.  To solve this challenge, our team created a fun and informative e-module that will guide you through the same gentle workouts you would experience in a gym setting.


The benefits include:


  • Access to a workout program that is specifically designed for patients living with chronic lung disease – even patients on oxygen*
  • Increase knowledge of fundamental movement skills
  • The ability to take your workout at your own pace


**Remember to consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.

Introducing our new (and improved) downloadable resources

You asked, we answered: The downloads you need are easier than ever to access. Our downloads cover a wide range of lung health topics, and they are 100% free for everyone who breathes.  Read on for some of our most-requested resources:

  • Journey 2 Quit is our most popular smoking cessation resource for a good reason:  this workbook-style resource allows people who want to quit smoking to go at their own pace and comfort level and choose the ideas and approach that best suit their individual needs.
  • If you’re going to download one piece of asthma content, let it be the Asthma Action Plan. Having and following a personalized plan is the key to achieving good asthma control. Print it out and fill it in with the help of your healthcare provider.
  • How to Manage Energy in COPD is full of practical tips that will help you navigate life when your condition leaves you feeling fatigued or frequently breathless.
  • Coping with Lung Cancer answers more than 25 of your most common questions, from “what’s next?” after diagnosis to finding resources that can help you and your family cope.

Click here to visit our new resource download page to find all of these publications + more!

Public education spotlight: What the Vape?!?!

Get to know the e-cigarette issue. Launched through our Youth Advocacy digital learning hub, this 15 minute e-module will be of interest to people of all ages who want to understand the growing concern around vaping. Find out which chemicals you can find in a typical e-liquid, learn why it may be safer than smoking (but not safe), and get informed about Big Tobacco’s role in the marketing of vaping devices to youth.


The Exceptional Access Program is going digital!

Exciting news for patients who need to apply to the Ministry of Health’s Exceptional Access Program to access drugs that aren’t covered under the provincial formulary: The Ministry is launching a Special Authorization Digital Information Exchange (SADIE) system that will replace the old fax-based application process.

Many patients with lung disease who are eligible for the Ontario Drug Program rely on the Exceptional Access Program to receive coverage for important medications. This new tool will speed up the process of drug decisions and, in many cases, give eligible patients a decision about drug funding in real-time.


Click here to learn more about SADIE. 

Your Dollars, Your Impact

How Dr. Dhenuka Radhakrishnan is Predicting Admission Risk in Kids with Asthma

It’s estimated that 25% of children who visit the emergency department (ED) for an asthma exacerbation will have a (preventable!) repeat asthma emergency visit or hospitalization within one year.  Shockingly, there are currently no guidelines that direct clinicians on how to practically identify at-risk patients before discharge from the ED. What if we could better identify these high-risk children, and deliver the right preventative interventions and education to keep them safe?

Thanks to funding from the Lung Health Foundation , Dr. Radhakrishnan is developing a clinical risk score tool that will help healthcare teams identify children at highest risk for repeat asthma ED visits or hospitalizations. Her study is filling a big knowledge gap, and has the potential to significantly change the way we target and manage children at the time of discharge from the ED in order to reduce future repeat acute healthcare visits.

An example of creative and cost-effective research, Dr. Radhakrishnan’s study is utilizing patient-level data that has already been accurately collected at multiple Canadian centers in a previously funded study. Since her team will be linking this previously collected data to high quality provincial health administrative data to identify the study outcomes, her findings could be relevant to all children across Ontario and Quebec – and can even be applied across Canada.


Our BREATHE EASY raffle jackpot has reached $1,500!

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.

September Spike asthma preparation webcast

August | live digital event

In late August, we’ll be bringing together an expert panel that will include a pediatric respirologist, Emergency Department doctor, and a parent who knows what it’s like to help a child live well with asthma. Together, these experts will give you the advice you need to get through back-to-school season without asthma flare-ups. Watch for your invite by email soon!

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 MPP’s to discuss key policy issues surrounding lung disease. For more information or to get involved contact our Policy and Public Affairs Associate at 

Better Breathing Conference 2020

Save the date: January 23 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 pre-registration guide launches soon! 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. 


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