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Event to highlight asthma controls, triggers

Pollution has been a hot topic in the air lately, and Merced’s first-ever World Asthma Day event will only bring more attention to it.

But the focus, of course, will be placed of those suffering the affects of pollution and other health triggers — asthmatics.

The event won’t be all doom and gloom, organizers say. There will also be fun and games, in addition to education about the problem.

Merced College Volleyball and the Merced/Mariposa County Asthma Coalition will present World Asthma Day on Tuesday at Merced College. Face painting, volleyball and raffles for such items as an electric lawn mower and natural gas barbecue are all part of the day.

An interactive “asthma circuit” will take visitors from booth to booth to learn more about the condition, what causes it and how to keep it under control. And the city will be presented with an “asthma report card.”

“We get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget about the air be breathe,” said Connie Mull, a nurse and health services manager for the Merced County Office of Education Head Start program. “People who have asthma have different triggers. In order to help, you need to know what those triggers are so you can avoid them.”

She said she was amazed by how many children in her program have asthma: 10 percent. Each child has an “action plan,” which provides a listing of their triggers and medications.

Mull and Noemi Flores, health educator at Livingston Medical Group, will be in booths at Merced College on Tuesday to provide more information about making your own action plan.

“In there it has a phone number of a doctor, a listing of medication,” Flores said. “It would say some like, ‘if the patient’s coughing, wheezing, having shortness of breath, give this medication every 20 minutes.’ Or ‘if they have purple lips, difficulty speaking, give them this medication and call 911.’ ”

The event is not only for those diagnosed with asthma, said Melissa Kelly-Ortega, program associate of the Asthma Coalition. It’s for family members and friends of asthmatics, too.

“If you just know someone who with asthma, learn more about what they are facing,” she said. “If you have it, learn ways to control it.”And those who don’t know if they suffer from the condition — but suspect they might — should definitely stop by.

There will be an asthma screening booth with a spirometry test. This free test will measure the force of air a person breathes, helping them determine if they have asthma.

Ways to fight air pollution will also be highlighted. Bring bicycles by the Merced Bike Coalition booth for a free check up. If residents’ bikes work properly, they will be more encouraged to ride bikes instead of driving their cars, Kelly-Ortega said.

A point of the event, she added, is to let people know that asthma can be controlled. Her children have asthma, but continue to play soccer.

“It shouldn’t prevent you from living a normal life,” she said. “If you have control of asthma, you should be able to do what everyone else does.”

What: World Asthma DayWhen: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. TuesdayWhere: Merced College, 3600 M St., Merced, at the new college amphitheater — north of the swimming pool and baseball fieldAdmission: FreeFor more information, call (209) 385-5490.

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