By Nathan Prewett
For The Tribune
Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center’s flagship office remains in Homewood, but the practice has grown over the past fifty years to include locations in Hoover, Alabaster, Cullman, Trussville and Chelsea. Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center has seven board certified allergist/immunologists. Dr. William Massey and Dr. Maxcie Sikora see patients in their Trussville office located a the Shoppes at Deerfoot. Nathan Prewett sat down with Maxcie Sikora, MD for the Tribune to ask some general questions about the practice.
We opened our Trussville office last year, and it has been a wonderful location for our patients and us. Our flagship office remains in Homewood, but over the past fifty years we have opened five other locations including Trussville. We saw the need to provide more convenient care to our patient base in the area. With the additional growth of the area, and the maintained sense of community, it was a very easy decision to open a office in Trussville.
Why should you see an allergist?
That’s a good question. General public knowledge about knowing when to see an allergist and the conditions we treat is one of our biggest challenges as a business. A board certified allergist/immunologist is the health care professional and expert who treats children and adults with allergies, asthma, skin conditions like eczema and hives, as well as chronic infections and immunodeficiency. Allergists complete medical school, a residency in pediatrics or internal medicine, and their two to three year fellowship in allergy, asthma, and immunology before becoming board certified – meaning they have passed their board certification exam. Legitimately, what we treat in our practice is anything allergy related. Eczema, asthma, general allergic rhinitis, which is inflammation for the nose and sinuses can be triggered by allergies . We also manage food allergies, medication allergies, and insect allergies.
For example, many people who have asthma also have allergies. When allergy triggers are a component of asthma, it is important for these patients to have, not only lung function testing for an accurate asthma diagnosis, but also allergy testing done by an allergist. Controlling their allergy triggers will also help control their asthma. We take a detailed medical history, physical exam, and conduct individualized testing to be comprehensive in our approach to offering our patients the most accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.
What causes allergies? It seems like more and more people are allergic?
What causes allergies in people remains something of a mystery. There’s not just one factor that causes such conditions, and there are many theories developed by experts over the years.
The biggest hypothesis is that we have become ‘too clean’ – particularly in Western societies. We’re not being exposed to as many bacteria or viruses or parasites that our bodies used to have to protect us against. And so, for lack of a better word, our immune system is slightly bored and overreacts to things. Our children don’t play in the dirt as much anymore, and they’re not outdoors as much anymore. Encountering things, like bacteria in the environment, actually helps our immune system become stronger.
Allergy shots, called immunotherapy, have been utilized by allergists for ages, but I think that one of the beautiful things is that with allergy shots we’re not just treating the symptoms. We are actually making the immune system more tolerant to the allergen and desensitizing you so you don’t have to take so much medication over time. Now, we are using the same mentality in treatment of some food allergies. In the last year, we have started an oral immunotherapy program, or oral desensitization treatment for peanut and tree nut allergies. Our goal is to prevent someone with these allergies from having a severe or fatal reaction, called anaphylaxis. We do this by giving them very small, increasing doses of the nuts (under strict physician supervision) to build up their immune system’s tolerance. The program is open to both children and adults.
We are committed to offering our patients innovative, quality care, and part of that is remaining active in research. We are able to learn and offer our patients new and different treatments through our Clinical Research Center of Alabama. We always have studies enrolling for eczema, asthma, allergies, and COPD,
One of the latest treatments that has been approved for asthma, eczema, hives, and has made a big difference, are called biologics. Biologics work differently than traditional medications and pills. They block the actual chemical triggers for these allergic type of conditions and are injected or infused.
Our Trussville office is located at 7274 Gadsden Highway in the Shoppes at Deerfoot.
To make an appointment with Dr. Sikora or Dr. Massey visit alabamaallergy.com or call us directly at 205-871-9661.