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Your family doesn’t have to miss out on life due to allergies and asthma. Dr. Amy Darter of Oklahoma Institute of Allergy and Asthma knows this first hand. Her passion for helping others comes from growing up as an allergy sufferer herself. As a child she had chronic allergies, sinus headaches and asthma. Her husband also has allergies as well as her three children. Dr. Darter desires to prevent other children from having to grow up with chronic suffering the way she did.
The Oklahoma Institute of Allergy and Asthma was developed in 2004 when Dr. Darter saw there was an unmet need for Oklahomans suffering from allergic diseases, immunologic diseases and asthma. The need was for a more aggressive comprehensive management and recognition of disorders and diseases affecting quality of life. Prevention is a large part of Dr. Darter’s mentality and she desires not just to treat and control, but to eliminate the problem. The Institute even provides educational content in the home.
The clinic takes patients with complex disorders. While Dr. Darter does treat hay fever and other common allergies, it is only a portion of what the clinic offers. She also treats much more severe chronic disease processes. The clinic sees patients with chronic skin disorders, headaches and immune dysfunction. Dr. Darter is dual boarded in both adult and pediatric allergy and immunology, which enables her to see the whole family.
“It is truly a blessing,” she said. “I see the children and fix the child, then see mom and dad and fix mom and dad, then maybe grandparents come along.”
Many diseases the clinic treats are genetic. According to Dr. Darter, 40 percent of Oklahomans suffer from allergies and 15-20 percent have asthma. The most common type of allergy is dependent on age. Indoor allergens such as pet dander is more common in young children. Seasonal allergens, grasses and rag weed are more common among older children and adults.
The clinic sees patients with food allergies, as well. According to Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE), researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This sometimes life-threatening disease affects one in every 13 children in the U.S. That’s approximately two in every classroom.
“There is a considerable amount of new science regarding food allergies because it is becoming more common,” Dr. Darter said.
Allergists can now introduce highly allergenic food proteins to very small children, as early as four to six months old to prevent food allergies. They can desensitize or reeducate the immune system in children and adults with food allergies making it possible for them to tolerate the food.
“Education and understanding is key,” Dr. Darter said.
Parents can be terrified when their child is diagnosed with a food allergy. For instance, when parents hear they might need to use Epinephrine or EpiPen as it is commonly called, they are often afraid of this medication.
“However, this is not necessary,” she said. “When parents truly understand epinephrine for an acute food reaction is a molecule made every day in their child’s adrenal glands, it is much less scary.”
Sometimes allergies, especially seasonal allergies, become so common they can be ignored or blown off or played down. Many people think allergies are just part of living in Oklahoma. The state’s erratic weather makes the allergy season unpredictable. As Will Rogers said, “If you don't like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it'll change.”
In Oklahoma, we don’t have a period of our year that an outdoor allergen is not pollinating. Our winters are unpredictable, so the cedar pollen is around all winter. Cedar pollen counts can be 60 times higher than even our notorious ragweed.
“Don’t settle,” Dr. Darter advises. “You are not just stuck with it!”
The Oklahoma Institute of Allergy and Asthma can do all sorts of things to give allergy sufferers, both children and adults, an edge. There are ways to prevent or treat allergies and other diseases effectively to allow children and adults to live a normal life. Children with allergies and asthma can play soccer outdoors, ride horses, whatever they want to do without being limited. Parents can help to give children the quality of life they deserve.
The Oklahoma Institute of Allergy and Asthma team takes pride in providing customer service and being accessible to patients. They provide consultations where the doctor and parent can just sit and talk. Parents can also interact through email in between visits. The doctors want to answer all of the questions and provide solutions so that parents can be confident about their child’s care.
What does someone do if they or their child is suffering from allergies or asthma? A family physician or pediatrician can do a blood screening and refer on to a board certified allergist. Patients can also call Oklahoma Institute of Allergy and Asthma directly or visit their website at okallergy.com. There are two clinic locations in Edmond and Yukon/Mustang. Don’t miss out on life; start living today!