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County wellness forum focuses on asthma
Liberty County human resources specialist Laura Troutman (left) and Rhyeshia Ash talk about Ash's new exercise regimen that won her recognition from the county during the Tuesday luncheon. - photo by Photo by Jen Alexander McCall
County employees gathered Tuesday for a lunch-and-learn program, at which Dr. John Cortina spoke.
The lunch was part of the county’s yearlong wellness campaign.
“Education is one of the four main components of this program,” human resource specialist Laura Troutman said. “We have more than 100 active participants.”
Cortina, who recently joined Liberty Regional Medical Center’s staff from a private practice in North Carolina, discussed asthma and allergies. He works with Dr. Adewemi Oguntunmibi of Coastal Medical Specialists in lung and critical care.
“One thing patients ask is, ‘what is asthma, and am I going to die from it?’” Cortina said.
He explained that asthma, unlike other lung health issues, can be reversed in many patients. Where asthma is related to external triggers such as allergens — pet dander, pollens, dust mites or roaches — patients may experience symptoms in varying degrees of severity.
Asthma is most common in young patients between the ages of 4 and 8, and again in patients older than 40, although a slight increase is also found in a small population over age 65.
“I don’t think anyone really knows why, but it’s a small bump,” Cortina said of the older patients, who often haven’t experienced any symptoms earlier in life.
Younger patients may grow out of asthma as their immune systems develop, but “that’s not to say that 10 to 15 years down the road, they might not develop [asthma] again,” Cortina said. “If it does happen if may be more permanent.”
Asthma is currently treated in a variety of ways, but most medications are designed to limit the body’s reaction to triggers. In addition to avoiding allergens that may trigger an attack, patients may choose an inhaler, nebulizer or pill such as Singulair.
Many patients with asthma also show signs of allergic rhinitis, Cortina said, which is marked by a runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes. Where asthma and allergies are intertwined, Cortina said doctors may prescribe such anti-allergy medications as Claritin or recommend over-the-counter remedies like Benadryl.
The wellness program includes a competition component to help motivate county employees. Winners receive various prizes for their participation. The second-quarter winner is Rhyeshia Ash, who earned 96 points by participating in various activities and implementing an exercise regimen. Ash thanked her fellow employees for their encouragement.
“I needed to do it, not just for the program but because I feel better overall,” she said.
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