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About Allergies

Asthma

Quick Facts

  • Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airway. It is a life-long condition that may change over time.
  • Many people with food allergies also have asthma.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (life-long) inflammatory disease of the airways that can cause:

  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

Asthma is unpredictable. Sometimes an asthma attack can be mild; at other times it can be severe. People can go for years without an asthma attack, then have a severe attack, or a series of attacks. It is important to always be prepared with emergency medication, even if you haven’t had an asthma attack in a long time.

Asthma triggers, degree, and severity are different for every individual. Some triggers include animals, dust mites, mould, pesticides, pollen, scented products, smoke, and viral infections – but there are many others.

Managing asthma often involves using daily medications to maintain health and carrying emergency medications to control asthma. Many people with asthma wear medical identification jewelry that indicates their medical needs.

Asthma and Food Allergies

People with food allergies who have asthma are more likely to suffer from anaphylaxis when having a food allergy reaction. However, many people who do not have asthma can also suffer from anaphylactic food reactions. All individuals with food allergies need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times. Likewise, all individuals with asthma need to be prepared with their emergency asthma medications.

If you have asthma, you must take preventative steps (such as avoiding triggers) and be prepared by carrying emergency medications. Daily life requires a high level of awareness, planning, and educating others about your health condition. Teachers, co-workers, neighbours, and family can all help you live safely with asthma.

Ryan’s Law

Recently, Ontario became the first Canadian province or territory to pass legislation guaranteeing students the right to carry their own asthma medications at school. It also requires Ontario school boards to develop asthma policies and individual asthma emergency plans for students with asthma. Modelled on Sabrina’s LawRyan’s Law (Bill 20) was supported by Food Allergy Canada from its inception until its unanimous passage in the Provincial Parliament in April of 2015.

Like Sabrina’s Law, Ryan’s Law is a model for other provinces and territories as they develop policies and legislation to make schools safer for all children.