The Asthma Education Centre is located on the 3rd Floor, Cardiopulmonary Department in the Carlo Fidani Building.
To obtain an appointment, a Physician Referral is required. Once the centre receives your referral we will contact you directly to arrange an appointment. A health care professional who is trained in asthma management strategies will be able to work with you in customizing a written asthma action plan. There is no cost to you or your physician.
What to expect during your education session:
- An individual 1 hour session
- Perform routine spirometry, (to measure your breathing) for those who are able to do the test
- Understand “what is asthma” and common symptoms
- Identify early and late warning signs
- Introduce ways to monitor your level of asthma control
- Learn how to identify asthma triggers and ways to avoid or reduce exposure.
- Find out about the medications your doctor has prescribed and learn how to use your inhaler properly
- Discuss how to monitor your symptoms, medication use and potential asthma triggers using an asthma diary
- Learn about peak flow measurements
- Develop an asthma action plan using your current prescribed medications
- Follow-up will be arranged
Routine Spirometry will be performed, at the beginning of each session, for those who are able to do the maneuver.
There is no cost to the referring doctor or the patient.
The Credit Valley Hospital,
Cardiopulmonary Department [map]
2200 Eglinton Avenue West,
Mississauga ON, L5M 2N1
1. Lung Association of Canada
2. Asthma Society of Canada
3. Canada Mortgage & Housing
4. Anaphylaxis Canada
5. Global Initiative for Asthma
6. Creating Asthma Friendly Schools
7. The Roaring Adventures of Puff
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects your lungs. The most common symptoms of asthma are coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, difficulty breathing and wheezing. The coughing often occurs at night or early in the morning. Not everyone will get all symptoms and not every asthmatic will wheeze. You can develop asthma at any age.
Asthma is caused by inflammation (or swelling) which narrows the airways. The muscles that wrap around the airways constrict (or tighten). Your irritated airways also produce mucus. The airways are very sensitive and can react to triggers which provoke asthma symptoms. Each person with asthma has their own specific triggers. Allergens, irritants, viral infections, exercise or weather conditions are all possible triggers. It is very important to identify and attempt to eliminate or reduce exposure to triggers.
How is asthma diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and possible triggers. Usually breathing tests are used to determine an asthma diagnosis when age appropriate. These tests are known as pulmonary function tests or spirometry.
How do I know my asthma is well controlled?
Asthma symptoms often come and go. Learning about your asthma, avoiding your triggers and understanding the importance of your asthma medication is the best way to avoid your asthma from getting worse. All asthmatics should have a written individual Action Plan which explains how to manage your asthma.
To determine if your asthma is controlled ask yourself the following:
• Do I cough, wheeze or have a tight chest because of my asthma?
• Does coughing, wheezing or chest tightness wake me at night?
• Do I stop exercising because of my asthma?
• Do I miss work or school because of my asthma?
• Do I use my blue reliever inhaler 4 or more times a week?
If you answered YES to one or more of these questions, your asthma is not well controlled and you should see your doctor.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Pulmonary function tests or PFT’s are a series of tests that measure your lung function. You will be asked to breathe in different ways while attached to a machine that will measure the air you breathe in and out. These tests are done in a lab, sometimes in the hospital and sometimes in a physician’s office. The test is like a snapshot of what is going on inside your lungs. When we have all of the information we can tell how much air moves in and out of your lungs, if you have extra air in your lungs after you breathe out, and how well oxygen can get from the lungs into the blood stream.
Spirometry measures the amount (volume) and speed (flow) of air that can be inhaled and exhaled. Spirometry is an important tool which is quite useful in assessing conditions such as asthma.
How the Lungs Work
The lungs are a remarkable organ. Through the lungs we get our main source of energy – oxygen. At the same time, the waste product, carbon dioxide, is breathed out. The lungs also have defenses against the dirt and other things that are in the air we breathe.
In order to take a breath in we normally use our diaphragm. This is a large muscle that sits at the bottom of our lungs. When we take a breath in the diaphragm contracts and moves down. It pulls the lungs with it which opens them up and pulls air into them. When we breathe out the diaphragm relaxes and moves up. This pushes the air out of our lungs.
When the air comes into the lungs it moves through the nose and/or mouth, through the throat and into the windpipe or trachea. The trachea divides in two and sends a tube to each of our lungs; one goes to the right side and one to the left. These tubes continue to divide and get smaller as they move out into the lungs. At the end of the smallest air tubes are tiny air sacs. These look a little bit like tiny balloons and connect to the air tubes like clusters of grapes. The air sacs or alveoli are surrounded by blood vessels. The oxygen rich air inside of the air sac is transferred into the blood stream and carbon dioxide replaces it in the air sacs. When we breathe out the air has very little oxygen in it and lots of carbon dioxide.
One of the defenses against the impurities in the air we breathe is our mucous. This is a sticky substance that lines the larger air tubes. Particles stick to it as the air moves through. This keeps the unwanted particles in the air from getting into the air sacs. Underneath the mucous layer are small hair-like projections called cilia. It is the cilia’s job to move the layer of mucous along and out of the lungs. The lungs are making mucous all of the time, and the cilia are moving it out of our lungs. Often we are not aware of this; we actually swallow the mucous without realizing it. When we have a cold or infection the lungs make more mucous and that is when we cough more out of our lungs.