Top 10 ways you can prevent lung disease

It’s true what they say, prevention is always the best medicine. The same can be said with the health of your lungs. We have created Lungs gifa list of 10 ways you can help prevent lung disease:

10. Make a difference. Protect your family by encouraging exercise, eating right and keeping your home free of respiratory triggers. Help spread the word to those around you to increase awareness about lung health. Every day, you can make a difference.

9. Start small. Your best bet for preventing lung disease is by helping children grow up smoke free and by modelling that behaviour. The Lung Association works with government and other organizations to ensure communities are smoke-free. Call us at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) for free information on the dangers caused by tobacco.

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Supplied photo from FreeImages.com

8. There are more than 300 substances in the workplace known to cause occupational asthma. Know the symptoms of asthma and monitor to see if they appear while at work. Talk to your doctor about workplace risks.

7. Test your home for radon. It’s simple and inexpensive. This coulourless, odourless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, yet you can easily prevent it from getting into your home. Visit www.YourHealthyHome.ca for more information on how to keep the air in your home healthy.

6. Get involved! Air pollution worsens lung disease and can be divesting for all Canadians, especially for those with chronic lung conditions. Join in the fight for clean air by reducing pollution and supporting clean air laws.

5. Prevent air pollution. Help keep the air in your community clean. Drive less, don’t idle your vehicle, and avoid burning wood, leaves or trash.

4. Know the symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. Call the Lung Association at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) and speak to one of our certified respiratory educators if you suspect you or a loved one has asthma. We can help you learn how to get it under control.

3. Recognize the warning signs of lung disease. Chronic cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing blood, chronic mucus production and chronic fatigue are not normal. See your doctor or other health provider for prompt attention.

2. Avoid lung hazards. Protect yourself from air pollution indoors and outdoors. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. Visit www.YourHealthyHome.ca for more tips.

1. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, plan to quit. Call The Lung Association at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) for the help you need to quit for good. You can also visit www.lung.ca.

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: Take me out to the ball game tobacco free

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Batting tobacco out of the park

It’s the opening week of major league baseball in the United States and in Canada’s biggest city — the home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

This season is a little different as a handful of baseball cities are coming together to fight tobacco. That movement is creating steam in New York City where its mayor, Bill De Blasio,  signed a bill Wednesday (April 6, 2015) that bans the use of smokeless tobacco products at all ticketed baseball stadiums, sports arenas, and recreation areas.

Similar bans have already been put in place at ball parks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston.

This has been the result of a campaign that the American Lung Association partnered in, called Knock Tobacco Out of the Park. The campaign was created to make sure sights of seeing players stuff large wads of tobacco into their mouths becomes a thing of the past.

The American Lung Association says MLB players have a major effect on whether kids — especially young boys — start using smokeless tobacco.

Acbaseball-game-1316732-639x852cording to a a September 2015 report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, high school athletes are using smokeless tobacco at close to half the rate of non-athletes. Smokeless tobacco rates among high school athletes also jumped by more than 11 per cent from 2001 to 2013. And the report shows that smokeless tobacco rates among high school athletes are alarming high at 17.3 per cent in 2013.

The American Lung Association cites that smokeless tobacco — which has dangerous risks to health, including oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer — is being marketed to children. Roughly $503.2 million is being spent by smokeless tobacco companies to market their products.

Asthma inhalers celebrate 60th anniversary

The Guardian: Asthma Inhalers Celebrate 60th Anniversary With Debate on Over-Prescription, published April 8, 2015

asthma-inhaler-1419833-639x424The Guardian has helped remind us that an inhaler, an important tool to help those with asthma manage their symptoms, is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Report Harpon Siddique take a look at how the inhaler has  been credited for saving the lives of millions of people, and how a debate is surfacing on how the inhaler has been, in his words, “in a sense, a victim of its own success.”

The entire story is an interesting look into the inhalers that have been around since 1956. Let us know what you think? Do you have a story about how your inhaler helped you? Send us an email.

 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: What happens during a hiccup?

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Have you ever wondered what happens when you have the hiccups?

The American Lung Association, HEADLINE: Inconvenient hiccups, published March 17, 2016

Your diaphragm is an important muscle. It helps with your breathing by expanding and contracting your chest and that movement draws air into your lungs.

And, as our friends at the American Lung Association points out, we don’t really think about how awesome the diaphragm really is when you’re having a bad case of the hiccups.

A hiccup happens when the diaphragm spasms — it snaps your vocal cords causing that squeaky hiccup sound.

Check out the post from the American Lung Association’s blog to learn more about hiccups.

In the meantime, check out how challenging it is for this young seven-year-old who is trying to battle through a bad case of the hiccups while singing Australia’s national anthem. It took our breath away watching this.

For sale: bags of fresh air in China to fight pollution problem

The Mirror, HEADLINE: Bags of fresh air on sale in China to combat pollution problem, published March 26, 2016. 

hazy-day-in-beijing-1536906-640x480Remember that hairy-nose-filled PSA we shared on this blog, which was about reminding people in China to take action against air pollution because “it changes you.”

It seems air pollution in China has already changed some business opportunities for those vendors who cater to tourists looking to escape their smog-filled cities.

Vendors are selling bags of air at touristy hiking locations in China’s mountain parks. The bags of mountain air can then be taken home to enjoy or to be used straight away.

Small bags for sale for $1.88 CDN each and large bags for  sale for $5.63 CDN sometimes come with flower pedals to make the air “more pleasant” in the bag.

Meet Calgary’s Catherine Bedford, Alberta’s 61st double-lung transplant patient in 2015

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Catherine Bedford is a 50-year-old resident from Calgary currently recovering from a double-lung transplant she received in December 2015.

Catherine Bedford, a 50-year-old Calgary resident, has been through quite a journey in 2015.

As surgeons in Edmonton’s University Hospital performed a record-shattering 61 lung transplant operations in 2015, Bedford was the last person to receive the life-saving surgery during that extremely busy year.

“I can do whatever I want now — I’ve got my life back,” said Bedford, a former dental hygenist who had to leave her position because of her illness.

“It is so important to sign that donor card and talk about it with your families.”

Bedford first discovered something was wrong with her health during her early 30s when she was unable to do common chores, like shovelling sidewalks. And as someone who was physically fit, she could no longer jog.

‘Problems breathing’

“I just noticed that exertion just gave me problems breathing,” she said during an interview with The Lung Association March 2.

Bedford had two close calls while giving birth to her two children. When she was 32, she gave birth to a 10-week premature baby boy who, she said, “came out blue” because of a lack of oxygen from her lung health condition that wasn’t diagnosed by doctors.

Then, at 33, Bedford gave birth to a tiny, low-weight baby — the result of a lack of oxygen in her body. That is when doctors realized something was wrong.

“I was diagnosed when (my children) were four and five-years-old,” she said.

Doctors discovered that Bedford had Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic form of emphysema.

From the age of 38, right through to her operation in 2015, Bedford had to be on oxygen, carrying large bottles with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Doctors also added her to a transplant list when she was 48 when her condition became worse.

Breathing_icon1The whole process was a journey for Bedford, as she was once taken off the list because she had resistant bacteria in her lungs. Doctors then gave her antibiotics for four months to fight the bacteria.

Once she was added back to the list on Dec. 9, 2015, Bedford says she received “the phone call” 20 days later.

Nerves rattled after phone call

That was a nerve-racking experience for Bedford who need medication and an ambulance ride because of an anxiety attack — something that is quite common for transplant patients when they get “the call.”

“The whole process was pretty quick,” said Bedford who also supports The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT every year with Christmas Seals and its other direct mail campaigns.

“You have to help out because it is so important to give to research.”

A long journey

Bedford, who is still getting treated in Edmonton to ensure her body doesn’t reject her new lungs, says she now has a new lease on life. She can now run on the treadmill — something she hasn’t done since her early 20s — along with playing sports she loves like slo-pitch, swimming, and water-polo.

As her recovery from surgery continues, Bedford hopes to meet the family of the person who gave her new set of lungs.

“I would like to say thank you — there is no gift better than the gift of life,” said Bedford.

“I am in the middle of writing a thank you card. It’s unfortunate that one has to pass on to save another person’s life, but that’s the organ donation cycle.”

Bedford now has a taste for adventure as she wants to go travelling with her family, along with horseback riding and skiing.

“I just want to do all of these things that I haven’t been able to do in a long time,” she said.

“It has been a long journey.”

—JC—

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: Fighting air pollution in China

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Change air pollution before it changes you: PSA from China

 

Air pollution in China has been dangerous in recent weeks.

All 366 cities in China — including Beijing — failed to meet World Health Organization air quality standards in 2015. The survey also shows that more than 90 per cent of residents in China are concerned about air pollution.

Obviously, air pollution in China is unavoidable, but in order to get people to take action against air pollution, WildAid‘s GOBlue campaign created an interesting PSA that speculates what residents might do to cope with the dirty air.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 8.39.40 AMFrom its press release, “‘Hairy Nose’ is an eye-catching and thought-provoking concept that projects the issue of air pollution into the distant future. In this world, nose hair has evolved to filter pollution and has led to activities, fashion and culture centered on the now prominent facial features. In the face of this, one man refuses to accept the pollution and shaves his nose hair in defiance. The message for current urban residents is clear: Change air pollution before it changes you.”

A very important message in China, especially since lung cancer deaths have risen by 465 per cent over the last 30 years.

What is it like living in Beijing?

CBC News: A Montrealer experiences Beijing’s notorious air pollution: Published March 3, 2016

hazy-day-in-beijing-1536906-640x480CBC News caught up with a former Montreal resident who now lives in Beijing. He shared about what life is like in a city that has once reached 423 in Beijing’s air quality index — a scale that is out of 500.

Elvis Anber says on days when it is really bad, he can’t see anything outside his apartment window. Residents in China also check out the air quality as much as they check out the weather reports, he says.

He also raises a very interesting point.

“To let in that fresh air, that’s something we take for granted in Canada,” Anber said to CBC News.

“Maybe when it’s about 100 or below, you can open up the window to let in some fresh air. You really shouldn’t be out when the pollution is this high, especially over prolonged periods of time.”

Pack a mask after an apocalypse to help you breathe: American Lung Association

American Lung Association: Forget the Post-Apocalyptic Setting Killing You – What About the Dust? Published Feb. 24, 2016

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© 2015 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved

Mad Max: Fury Road cleaned up the 88th Academy Awards last Sunday night by winning the most Oscars with six.

And before movie director George Miller walked on the red carpet that night, our friends at The American Lung Association asked is why those who create post-apocoliptic stories and movies don’t consider risks to lung health.

“Naturally with any scenario like post end-of-the-world, we assume natural resources such as water and gas will be scarce and probably rationed out by a power hungry warlord,” it wrote in this interesting post in its blog.

“What many people probably don’t consider are the risks to lung health. After all, humans need to breathe to survive.”

This is a must read for all lung health fans! And if the world ends, make sure you pack a mask to help you fight through sandstorms.

—JC—

 

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: From cat videos to air quality

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Editor’s note: This is a new feature we hope our supporters — and fans of lung health — will enjoy on a weekly basis. “What We’re Reading This Week” will post on PoweredByBreathing.com on Fridays to give our supporters and fans of The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT an idea of the lung health-related news stories, clips, videos, and editorial posts that we are reading, watching, and listening to every week.

We hope you enjoy it. If you see an article that you came across related to lung health, please share it with us by emailing communicationsab@ab.lung.ca. 

Is it time we re-think how we keep warm?

“The quest for cleaner fire: Why it’s time to rethink our favourite way to get warm.”: Globe and Mail, Published Feb. 17, 2016

Forest PitThe Globe and Mail’s Sarah MacWhirter studies how cities across Canada are tackling air pollution, including Montreal where it will soon have some of the toughest regulations against wood burning.

Residents in Montreal will soon be required “to register their wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, and, as of Oct. 1, 2018, will have to replace what they have now with equipment that meets the tough new EPA standard of only 2.5 grams of particulate released into the atmosphere each hour,” writes MacWhirter.

Air pollution kills 5.5 million a year: VICE

“Air Pollution Kills 5.5 Million People A Year — Over Half Of Them in China, India”: VICE News, Published Feb. 16, 2016

forbidden-pollution-1245100-639x426Staggering stuff.

According to VICE News, air pollution has caused more than 5.5 million premature deaths in 2013, and that number is expected to rise — particularly in India and China.

In two of the world’s fastest growing economies, air pollution has killed 1.6 million people in China and 1.4 million in India, writes VICE News’ Jake Bleiberg.

The World Health Organization has already estimated that 80 per cent of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 14 per cent of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or acute lower respiratory infections; and six per cent of deaths were due to lung cancer.

The purrrrr-fect message against smoking?


During the Grammy Awards Monday night, the Truth Initiative aired an amazing ad in the United States to engage young people to “be the generation that ends smoking.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 2.33.26 PM.pngIt was definitely the cat’s meow as the video — which has more than 2 million views on YouTube — cites that those poor kitties will get cancer if their owners smoke.

According to the ad that is full of cat-itude, smoking equals no cats, which means no cat videos. 😦

It’s a great message and our media specialist at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT has already watched it a dozen times. Perhaps it’s like catnip.

-JC-

Test your home for radon before spring in Alberta

Radon graphic for blog post

Radon is a cancer-causing, colourless, odourless, naturally-occurring radioactive gas that comes from uranium breaking down deep in the soil. Radon enters a home through cracks in foundation walls, construction joints, and gaps around service pipes or support posts.

Preliminary data collected from 268 homes in Calgary region by a University of Calgary project shows that one in five homes are over Health Canada’s maximum acceptable limit of 200 Becquerels/m3.

Data also collected by The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT from 658 Alberta homes reveals that 16 per cent of those households have radon levels higher that Health Canada’s acceptable limit. However, when the homes are compared to limits set in the United States — a limit of 149 Bq/m3 — that’s 28 per cent of homes in Alberta that have tested higher than acceptable limits set in the U.S.

The World Health Organization recommends an acceptable limit of radon should be at 100 Becquerels/m3. With that said, 54 per cent of those same homes tested in Alberta are above WHO’s acceptable limit — a result that is much higher than anticipated.

The result is staggering because radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking in Canada. About 3,200 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon exposure each year — about 16 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in Canada.

There are no radon free areas in Canada and data shows Alberta is in a very higher risk of having radon in almost every home. However, the question every Alberta household and landlord needs to answer is how much of that radioactive gas is in his or her home. Of course, the only way to know is to test.

Health Canada recommends that homes and buildings be tested for a minimum of three months using long term testing kit and the best time to test is during the fall and winter months. Since it is already mid-February, time is running out for households to take advantage of prime time opportunities to test their homes for radon.

 

Purchase your test kit from The Lung Association office or online from http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com/ at the cost of $35. Kits are also available at different hardware stores.

For more information about radon, visit www.ab.lung.ca/radon or contact Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health by email at shassan@ab.lung.ca or by phoning 1-888-5666-5864, ext. 2252

— This blog post was authored by Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT