Spring allergies and asthma a balancing act for over two million Canadians



    - Patient associations launch national program to help sufferers -

    TORONTO, April 4 /CNW/ - Just like the game Jenga(R), where players have
to strike the right balance with wooden blocks, for those with asthma and
seasonal allergies, commonly known as hay fever, the spring kicks off a season
of balancing acts.
    For the 75 per cent of asthmatics who have seasonal allergies(1), each
spring day is a balancing act of managing medications and steering clear of
environmental triggers to avoid emergency room visits and asthma attacks.(2)
    Pollens begin to reach peak levels across Canada around the month of
March, when people with seasonal allergies often experience more severe
symptoms.(3) Seasonal allergies are often triggered by pollen from trees in
early spring, followed by grasses in late spring and weeds throughout the
spring and summer.(3)

    Keep Your Balance

    To raise awareness about the link between asthma and seasonal allergies
this spring, the Asthma Society, the Family Physician Airways Group of Canada
(FPAGC) and the Allergy/Asthma Information Association (AAIA) have teamed up
to create the Keep Your Balance campaign. Using numerous resources including
brochures, advertisements, and a Web site, the campaign is designed to help
patients affected by both conditions understand how to manage their symptoms
and enable them to enjoy their daily lives.
    "Having both asthma and seasonal allergies can be quite a challenge,"
says Dr. Alan Kaplan, a family physician and the chair of the FPAGC, a group
of primary care physicians who are committed to helping those with airway
diseases lead a full life. "Untreated seasonal allergies also prevent full
asthma control. Some patients may balance three to four different medications
at a time and still experience problems breathing. If we can simplify our
patient's treatment and control both their symptoms and their disease, we will
all benefit," says Dr. Kaplan.

    One Airway - One Disease

    Scientists now believe that asthma and allergic rhinitis (commonly
referred to as allergies) may actually be different facets of the same disease
which is known as the "One Airway, One Disease" concept.(4) Both are diseases
of the airway caused by inflammation and may be seen as a continuum, from top
to bottom of the breathing system. Inhaling irritants, like pollen, may
provoke an allergic reaction in the delicate lining of the nose area, while
airborne asthma irritants may cause inflammation further down the airways.
    Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA), a group working in
partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), has provided the first
set of guidelines which can be used worldwide. The recently published ARIA
guidelines recommend:

    
    -   Patients with asthma should be appropriately evaluated (history and
        physical examination) for rhinitis (irritation and inflammation of
        the nose);

    -   A combined strategy should be ideally used to treat co-existent
        asthma and allergic rhinitis.
    

    "The Keep Your Balance campaign is about finding the right equilibrium
when living with asthma and seasonal allergies - from balancing different
medications to balancing outdoor activities to minimizing environmental
triggers," says Frank Viti, chief executive officer for the Asthma Society.

    More than just sniffles

    A survey conducted in 2006 among people with asthma who also suffer from
seasonal allergies, found that quality of life is significantly affected as a
result of coping with this condition. Of the 244 Canadians surveyed by Decima
Research, many respondents say seasonal allergies interfere with a good night
of sleep (43 per cent), hinders participation in leisure and sporting
activities (33 per cent), and disrupts their ability to enjoy social
activities (27 per cent).(5)
    When it comes to how seasonal allergies impact their asthma, 25 per cent
of respondents indicate they have more asthma attacks, and 35 per cent turn to
higher doses of medication to control their asthma, indicating that for many
Canadians, their seasonal allergies and consequently their asthma, is not
under control.(6)
    "Not only does my hay fever leave me feeling tired and lethargic, it also
triggers my asthma," says Andrea Kenney, who has lived with asthma and
seasonal allergies for the past 41 years. "I feel short of breath for months
at a time which compromises my ability to work, and limits my enjoyment of any
outdoor activity," says Ms. Kenney. "By checking with my doctor each year just
prior to spring pollen season, I have found solutions which allow me to
balance both my asthma and allergies. It is important that patients discuss
this with their doctor."
    "The Keep Your Balance campaign is about ensuring people like Andrea have
the best possible information to help them keep their symptoms under control,
so they can live their lives," says Mary Allen, chief executive officer of the
AAIA.
    To learn more about asthma and seasonal allergies, please go to
www.asthma.ca or www.aaia.ca.

    References

    
    (1)    Allergic Rhinitis and its impact on Asthma, ARIA Workshop Report,
           J Allergy Clin Immunol, s198
    (2)    Allergic Rhinitis and its impact on Asthma, ARIA Workshop Report,
           J Allergy Clin Immunol, s147
    (3)    http://allergies.about.com/cs/season/a/aa032700a.htm
    (4)    http://www.medicalgrid.org/eng/user/pages/4
           _phase/asthmaallergy.htm
    (5)    About the poll: The Decima Research poll was conducted between
           August 17th through September 11th, 2006 via the Decima teleVox, a
           national weekly omnibus telephone survey. Results are based on a
           sample of 244 Canadians who suffer from asthma and allergic
           rhinitis, accurate to within +/-6.4%, 19 times out of 20.
    (6)    About the poll: The Decima Research poll was conducted between
           August 17th through September 11th, 2006 via the Decima teleVox, a
           national weekly omnibus telephone survey. Results are based on a
           sample of 244 Canadians who suffer from asthma and allergic
           rhinitis, accurate to within +/-6.4%, 19 times out of 20.
    

    Jenga(R) is a registered trademark of Pokonobe Associates and is used
    with permission. All rights reserved. (C) 2007 Hasbro. All rights
    reserved.





For further information:

For further information: Ethan Pigott, Cohn & Wolfe, (416) 924-5700 ext.
4059, ethan_pigott@ca.cohnwolfe.com; Oxana Latycheva, VP Operations, The
Asthma Society, (416) 787-4050 ext. 108, olatycheva@asthma.ca; Mary Allen,
Chief Executive Officer, Allergy/Asthma Information Association, (514)
694-0679, maryallen@sympatico.ca

Organization Profile

Asthma Society of Canada

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ALLERGY/ASTHMA INFORMATION ASSOCIATION

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