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National Asthma Patient Alliance

April 2011 E-Newsletter: Spring into Pollen Season

Welcome to April! The sun is trying its best to poke through and bring us spring-like temperatures. If you haven't seen trees and plants blooming in your part of the country, they will be shortly. This month's newsletter brings you some spring tips, asks for your participation in a research study, and reminds you that you can make asthma a discussion topic in the upcoming federal election.

1. Spring is in the Air - Literally

If you are one of the 80% of people with asthma who also have allergies, you may dread the arrival of spring. As plants, trees and grasses begin to bloom, pollen is carried through the air. These particles can be breathed in, and can land inside your airways, causing asthma flare-ups. Spring seasonal allergies can also cause allergic reactions in your nose and eyes.

Were you aware that brightly coloured flowers are usually not the source of many of the symptoms you experience? These pollens are usually carried by insects such as the honeybee, taking pollen from flower to flower. In the springtime, it’s the wind that carries pollen from trees. Trees are usually the first to begin producing allergy-causing pollen – ash, birch, cypress, elm, hickory, maple, poplar and cedar trees are among the most common for allergy sufferers. Their light weight pollens can travel long distances in the air and cause problems with your allergies. The yellow pollens from pine and other “needle” trees are typically much heavier, and fall to the ground before they can become airborne. Heavy spring rains can knock pollens out of the air, but cause increased grass production (and grass allergies) later in the spring and the summer.

If you can, avoid going outdoors before 10am when pollen counts are at their highest. Make sure you check the local pollen counts for your area with the Weather Network. Take extra care during thunderstorms and days with extra humidity. In these situations, pollen grains in the air can get stirred up and burst, leading to a phenomenon sometimes known as thunderstorm asthma. Despite the temptation of warmer temperatures, keeping your windows closed will help avoid pollen blowing into your house and car. And avoid hanging your clothes to dry outdoors, as pollen can latch on there as well.

Hand-in-hand with this season comes Spring Cleaning! As you haul dusty junk out of your attic or basement for cleaning or a yard sale, mind any dust or mould that may have gathered since you put it in storage. And as you scrub your house clean, remember to avoid harsh chemicals when possible, or wear protection if you must use them. Avoid artificial scents and air fresheners inside your home – they just add more chemicals to the air instead of removing the source of a bad smell. If you are going bargain-hunting for new treasures in other people’s yard sales, be aware that your new purchases may have come from a smoke-filled home. Used mattresses, upholstered furniture and stuffed toys always carry the possibility of mould or dust mites, especially if they have been stored outdoors for any length of time.

Make sure you take the appropriate precautions necessary to limit your exposure to your allergic triggers.  If you are not sure of your allergies, ask your doctor to send you for allergy testing and/or a visit to an allergist.  Also, be sure you and your healthcare professional have developed an Asthma Action Plan so you are prepared to manage any asthma flare-ups that could occur with the allergy season. Keeping your asthma under control with regular trigger avoidance and controller medication is the easiest way to avoid asthma flare-ups this spring.

2. SickKids Needs You for an Asthma Study

Our partners at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) are conducting a study about effective asthma control in children. This study does not involve medical testing, medications or treatments, but is a few short questionnaires that will take you about 30 minutes to complete either by hand or online.

If you have a child who is between the ages of 2 and 16 years old with asthma, or if you are an adolescent with asthma between 12 and 16 years old, we encourage you to click here to find more about the study. After a description page, the second page of that link contains the sign-up form. Anyone living in Canada is eligible to participate, and the information will be mailed directly to your home.

The purpose of this research is to understand your preferences or your child's preferences regarding which factors (for example, frequency of night-time symptoms) you consider important for achieving effective asthma control for your child.

For more information about the study, or to sign-up by phone, please contact:

The Asthma Society of Canada

The Hospital for Sick Children
Shahjereen Shahidullah

3. asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program hosts booth at Green Living Show 2011

The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program team is pleased to announce a Program booth at the Green Living Show 2011 in Toronto later this month.  The Program will co-host a booth with certification clients SmartSilk Corp. and Dyson Canada Ltd, from April 15th to 17th, at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto.

The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program is delighted to be attending the event for the first time and extends an invitation to anyone seeking information on asthma or allergies or who has any interest in the program to come visit us at booth numbers 2136 and 2137.

The Green Living Show is Canada’s largest green consumer show dedicated to educating the public about easy and workable solutions for leading a sustainable lifestyle.  Visitors can shop the wide variety of exhibitor booths while gathering information and inspiration from a diverse selection of demonstrations, presentations, and activities.

The booth will provide consumers with a unique opportunity to talk to the program team, get advice from experts from the Asthma Society of Canada and see product demonstrations and collect information on certified asthma & allergy friendly™ bedding items from SmartSilk Corp., and certified vacuum cleaners from Dyson Canada.

There will also be exciting opportunities to win both SmartSilk and Dyson certified asthma & allergy friendly™ products so make sure to come along and visit us!

If you would like any information on the booth please contact Andrea Richardson, Program Manager, on, or +3531 675 5678. To volunteer at this event, please contact the Asthma Society at 1-866-787-4050.

4. More Asthma Materials available in Chinese

The Asthma Society is pleased to expand our offering of materials available in different languages!

You can find a link on our website to access information about the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), and 20/20 - The Way to Clean Air energy conservation program in Chinese, developed by Toronto Public Health.

The AQHI is a web-based scale which describes a local reading of air quality as it relates to your health. The AQHI is calculated daily based on the levels of a combination of air pollutants in the air which are known to be harmful to your health. The AQHI reading describes a number between 1 and 10+. The greater the number, the higher the level of air pollution, and the greater the associated health risk. Alongside the AQHI are Health Messages which help explain the index, and provide recommendations on how to adjust your outdoor activity level based on the current reading specific to your individual health risk to air pollution.

If you know someone who would prefer to find this information available in a Chinese language format, please direct them to You can also find more information about the AQHI from Environment Canada in English and French.

This is in addition to our Asthma Basics booklet series, already available online in 3 languages. Click each link to find the asthma information that is right for you!

Asthma Basics 1: Diagnosis:
English, French, Chinese

Asthma Basics 2: Triggers
English, French, Chinese

Asthma Basics 3: Medications
English, French, Chinese

Asthma Basics 4: Kids
English, French, Chinese

Our Asthma Patient Bill of Rights is also available in English and French, and in a bilingual wall-poster. All of these materials can be ordered in hard-copy format as well! If you would like to order some, please contact to place your order, or call 1-866-787-4050.

5. Pack All Your Asthma and Allergy Essentials for Spring

Seasonal allergies can be especially difficult for people with asthma because they are often the same irritants that can trigger airway irritation and inflammation.  Having good control of allergy symptoms may help minimize the impact on your health, but Spring is also a great time to review your asthma treatment program.

Taking the steps to organize all of your asthma and allergy essentials will help you act quickly should an emergency arise.  Making sure you have access to your rescue medication and being prepared with a step-by-step Asthma Action Plan will give you the confidence to act quickly and decisively should symptoms worsen.

Two new products are now available to help. The Aero-ToGo* Inhaler Sleeves and Carrying Case are easy to use for people of all ages.  Thoughtfully designed, the new products organize asthma and allergy essentials so you can be prepared no matter what life throws your way.

Aero-ToGo* Inhaler Sleeves

  • Slips easily onto most inhalers – securing them during even vigorous activities
  • Convenient clip for on-the-go use can be attached to zippers, backpacks, key chains or belt loops
  • Ensures medication is always within easy reach

Aero-ToGo* Carrying Case

  • Customizable Asthma Action Plan ensures emergency instructions are close at hand when it counts
  • Anti-bacterial lining protects contents and fights the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew
  • Vibrant colour is easily identifiable in an emergency situation

For more information, please click here.

6. Keep your Lung Health in Mind during the Federal Election

We are now into election season across the country, with a vote to be held on May 2nd. As you speak to your candidates and pay attention to the media reports of campaign promises, remember to focus on the items which are important to you. Lung health may be one of those issues.

When it comes to asthma care and lung health, most direct delivery programs are run by the provinces. This includes hospitals, drug plans, and your asthma education programs. However, the federal government provides billions of dollars in cash and tax transfers to the provinces to use for health care. This forms the basis for what we know as Medicare, and ensures that certain health standards are met in every province.

The federal government also has the ability to take a leading role in any discussions around bulk drug purchasing, the regulation of generic drugs, and directing money for health research. These discussions will be based on the Canada Health Accord agreement with the provinces, which is set to expire in 2014. The next government will play a major role in the negotiations and the standards in this new agreement.

Through incentives and tax credits, the federal government can play a role in the training, education, and location of doctors, nurses and pharmacists. A larger proportion of the healthcare needs of Aboriginal populations are handled by the federal government. The government departments of Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada also play a significant role with developing programs and collecting data related to asthma and its management.

If you are looking for a specific promise or commitment out of your local candidates, ask them if they are willing to have Parliament formally adopt our Asthma Patient Bill of Rights. This document has been recognized by the government of Nova Scotia, and provides a foundation of basic rights and obligations for Canadians with asthma and their health care providers.

7. Cross-Country Asthma Clinics at Walmart on World Asthma Day

World Asthma Day is coming fast, and will be here on Tuesday May 3rd. The Pharmacist at Walmart is partnering with the Asthma Society to bring Asthma Clinics to 270 stores across the country on that day.

About 60% of people with asthma do not have control of their condition. A visit to an asthma clinic can help you manage your asthma with advice directly from a pharmacist. Your consultation will include:

  • Assessment and education
  • Proper medication use and device instruction
  • An Asthma Action Plan
  • Referrals to testing or other asthma resources
  • Advice on strategies to quit smoking
  • Asthma Society resources including the Asthma Patient Bill of Rights

Call your local pharmacy for details. You can find store locations and hours at the Walmart Store Locator.

8. Stories you may have missed this month on the NAPA Blog

Available at, here are some of the interesting stories you may have missed in the last month:

Quebec pharmacists seeking more responsibilities
Protein defect now linked to asthma, peanuts and eczema
Windsor-Essex asthma program cuts work absenteeism in half
Canadian research: Asthma Action Plans are effective

Notice and Correction:
In our last e-newsletter, we reported an incorrect date for Seja’s Run, a 2.5km and 5km walk, bike or run fundraising event hosted by the Toronto French School Alumni Association. This event raises money for the Asthma Society of Canada, and is a great opportunity to socialize and get active. The correct date for the event is Saturday May 14th. For more information, please visit If you are interested in volunteering, pledging or participating, please reply to your e-mail or contact

Asthma Society of Canada - June 2017