“There are even Olympic athletes who have asthma,” Maryse Larose, a physiotherapist who works with Health Sciences North's adult asthma clinic, and a volunteer with the Lung Disease Support Group, said.
The support group organized the asthma forum for May 1 in honour of World Asthma Day. The theme for this year's World Asthma Day is “you can control your asthma.”
The event, which takes place in the Parkside Older Adult Centre, inside the YMCA Centre for Life building on Durham Street, starts at 6 p.m.
Participants will have a chance to look at asthma displays from the adult and paediatric asthma clinics at Health Sciences North, the Lung Disease Support Group, the Lung Association, and local retailers who sell asthma control products.
There will also be presentations from a number of health professionals about asthma from childhood to old age, including by paediatrician Dr. Sean Murray and respirologist Dr. Sandy Cameron.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, characterized by airflow obstruction.
When exposed to triggers such as exercise, dust, scents, air pollutants or animal dander, the airway will become inflamed, Karen Zalan, another one of the event's organizers, said.
“They liken an inflamed airway to trying to breathe in through a straw, because the diameter is significantly narrowed,” Zalan, a retired physiotherapist who used to work with the hospital's adult asthma clinic, said.
One in 10 people in the province have asthma. The rate is even higher amongst children. The asthma rates in Sudbury are about the same as in the rest of the province, Larose said.
While in rare cases asthma can even lead to death, both Zalan and Larose emphasize there are ways to control the condition.
Firstly, there's cortical steroids which many asthmatics take every day to prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place.
“It's different than an anabolic steroid — it's something your body produces naturally,” Larose said. “It gives you a little boost. Your dosing can change depending on whether you have mild or severe asthma.”
There's also “rescue inhalers,” which contain medication to quickly open the airways, which asthmatics should carry with them at all times, she said.
Zalan said teenagers are often reluctant to carry their inhalers because there seems to be a stigma amongst young people against having asthma.
Asthmatics should also find out what their triggers are, and then avoid them.
Zalan said if a pet cat is exacerbating someone's asthma, she doesn't tell them to give away the animal, as pets are important, but said they should consider not replacing it when it dies.
They can also delegate responsibility for caring for the animal to another family member and keep it out of their bedroom.
Anyone with an interest in asthma is welcome to attend the forum.
Larose said it's a good venue for those with the condition or their caregivers to ask questions about asthma.
She also encourages health-care workers, teachers or early childhood educators who wish to learn more about the condition to attend the session.
“For example, if you're in home care and are going into the home of an asthmatic, you might want to know some of the considerations for yourself, in terms of scents,” she said.
To register for the forum, phone the Lung Disease Support Group at 705-524-9864.
Posted by Heidi Ulrichsen