Asthma is a common and potentially serious chronic disease caused by inflammation in the airways of the lungs. This inflammation leads to repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Asthma attacks can lead to hospitalization, and may even be fatal. According to Asthma Canada, asthma affects more than 1 in every 10 Canadians.
In older children and adults, a diagnosis of asthma can be confirmed with a breathing test. If you or a loved one have asthma-like symptoms or have been prescribed an inhaler medication, ask your doctor about asthma testing.
Use it right.
If you have been prescribed an inhaler, it is very important that you know how to use it properly. These medications need to get deep into your lungs to be effective. Talk to your health care provider about practicing proper inhaler technique, or visit lung.ca for helpful videos.
Have a plan.
Asthma fluctuates over time, so make a plan for when symptoms worsen. Work with your health care provider and develop a written plan. When asthma symptoms flare up, put this plan into action! To minimize worsening of episodes, there are strategies to reduce some triggers in your home. Visit ginasthma.org for tips.
Know your work environment.
According to Asthma Canada, approximately 1 in 10 asthmatic adults have symptoms aggravated or caused by exposures in the workplace. Common examples include spray paint and wheat flour. Speak with your occupational health and safety team to determine if your workplace may be contributing to your symptoms.
We share our air.
Air pollution can worsen asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions. Be sure to exercise outdoors regularly, but check the Air Quality Health Index and consider exercising indoors when the rating is very high. Also, please do all you can to reduce air pollution.
Dr. Kevin Lumb, MD, FRCP, is Osler’s Division Head of Respirology and has been practicing at Osler since 2010. Dr. Lumb has also been the Medical Advisor for Osler’s pulmonary function laboratories since 2019, and was the Site Chief of Medicine at Etobicoke General Hospital from 2020-2021. He completed his medical and subspecialty fellowship training at the University of Toronto.