Medwatch: Understanding Allergies, and their importance

Allergies, whether it's caused by food or things outside, no one likes dealing with them.
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 10:34 AM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Allergies, whether it’s caused by food or things outside, no one likes dealing with them. A local doctor decided to become an allergist-immunologist after seeing her mother develop an overreacting response to an allergen later in life.

Now, she’s trying to help others who have allergies and asthma. Dr. Aisha Mohammed said people can develop allergies throughout their life.

“Including food allergies. Those can not happen when you’re younger, and then all of a sudden you’re like: ‘oh no, what have I eaten,’” said Mohammed

Comanche County Memorial Hospital can test for allergies in several different ways. She said if they test for an allergy to certain food and it comes back negative, they can run different testing or have the patient challenge themselves at home, depending on how serious their reaction was.

“But, if the testing is positive, then we have another pathway. We do subsequent blood work to confirm that testing and to see if you would outgrow the allergen,” said Mohammed.

She said if it’s one the patient would outgrow, then they’ll have them back for yearly testing. If it’s one they’re going to have forever, she said they’ll prescribe them an EpiPen and tell them to avoid that food.

If someone thinks they have an allergy to ragweed or pollen, they’ll need testing as well, but it’s different than a food allergy because they can take medicine for it. They also offer immunotherapy.

“Immunotherapy is a way of having the body kind of build this slow, desensitization towards the allergen over time. So, 3 to 5 years, nothing immediate,” said Mohammed.

She said it usually comes in injection form.

Another thing she sees patients for is asthma, which she said is usually poorly diagnosed.

“It’s overlooked for a few years before someone ends up in the ER getting steroids multiple times, and they’re like, ‘you might have asthma. Go see an allergist,’” said Mohammed.

One reason it’s hard to detect is because there are so many different things going on in the background.

“It’s so easy to overlook because the symptoms are so common, and they’ve just become part of daily life, and nobody is thinking about that in the background,” said Mohammed.

Dr. Mohammed is the only fellowship trained Allergist in Lawton who is also trained in pediatrics, so not only can she see kids and adults, but also the area’s youngest patients.