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Dr Mohana D/O Rajakulendran

"Being a paediatrician allows me to work with small children who continue to inspire me daily with their resilience"
Dr Mohana Rajakulendran is a paediatrician at Parkway East Hospital. She has special interests in the management of food allergies and eczema in infants and young children.
  • Specialty:

    • Paediatric Medicine
  • Languages Spoken

    • English
    • Tamil

Getting to Know Dr Mohana D/O Rajakulendran

Getting to Know Dr Mohana D/O Rajakulendran

Q: What motivated you to become a doctor, and how did you decide to become a doctor?

I’ve always wanted a meaningful and fulfilling career where I can be of service and help people in their times of need. I didn’t want to feel like I was waking up every morning and going to just “work”. I have also always loved interacting with “little people” as they are full of innocence and pure joy. Being a paediatrician allows me to work with small children whocontinue to inspire me daily with their resilience to fight hard against their illnesses and bounce back to heath so quickly. It is a truly magical career and I love getting paid with lovely smiles every day!

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Q: What kind of conditions do you treat, or specialise in treating?

I treat common general paediatric conditions like cough, colds, vomiting and diarrhoea and also screen and do follow-ups on healthy children to ensure they are developing well and are receiving appropriate vaccinations to stay healthy. I also have a passion for allergy and help to diagnose and manage allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema, hives, and food and drug allergies.

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Q: Could you share your philosophy in treating patients?

I believe in minimising the use of medications when it comes to treating children. Not every single symptom needs a medication. Most children recover fully on their own over time. In fact, some of these symptoms bother the caregivers and onlookers more than it actually does the child. If it bothers the child’s activity, feeding or sleep, it may need some intervention – but if not, medication may not be necessary. It is important to remember that an effective “cure” for a symptom may not be the most appropriate medication for a young child. Instead, during my consults, I believe in educating parents and caregivers so as to empower them with the confidence to adequately support their children through common childhood illnesses and knowledge of when to seek appropriate medical care.

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Q: How does a typical day look like for you working as a doctor?

I start my day early reviewing sick patients who are warded to formulate a management plan for the day and update their parents and caregivers on their progress. I then run my clinic sessions where I see a good mix of general paediatrics and allergy. In between, I review my patients in the day therapy ward who are undergoing food and drug challenges.

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Q: What are some of the most interesting or fulfilling parts of your job?

The most interesting part of my practice is discovering possible food and drug allergies. I almost feel like Sherlock Holmes gathering clues through a detailed timeline of reactions, digging through past histories and scrutinising food and drug labels before arriving at a clinical diagnosis. I truly value the art of clinical medicine where a diagnosis should be apparent after good history taking and physical examination. In this day and age, we sometimes end up relying too much on easily available tests instead. I then make a bet with my patients on the likely results of their confirmatory skin and blood tests. It makes my day when I get it right!

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Q: Briefly describe a particularly difficult case that you successfully treated using your expertise.

I once encountered a teenage girl who enjoyed competitive runs. However, she had repeated episodes of severe shortness of breath, rashes and near-fainting episodes when running. These needed to be treated as they were severe life-threatening allergic reactions. She came to me for a work-up of her allergic condition and was negative to multiple foods. Eventually, I diagnosed her with exercise-induced anaphylaxis, an unusual condition where vigorous exercise can lead to a life-threatening reaction. Moderating her activity and exercise to safe levels helped her to avoid such reactions.

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Q: What kind of treatments do you perform specially?

I perform allergy skin prick tests which are comfortable, painless and quick procedures for diagnosing allergies in children. This allows me to avoid drawing blood, which might be painful for young children. Skin prick tests are also easier on the parent’s pockets, since multiple allergens can be screened at a fraction of the price of allergen blood tests. Parents are also usually grateful as they can get a diagnosis of the issue at hand on the same day as their initial consultation.

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I also plan oral food and drug challenges to appropriately diagnose allergies. This allows for early reintroduction of foods and use of medications the children might be inappropriately avoiding. These oral challenges also allow me to give the family the confidence and guide them as they introduce allergic foods once their child shows signs of outgrowing his or her food allergies.

There is an important window period in the first few years of a child’s life where the child’s immune memory is still highly modifiable. There is more and more evidence to support the theory that actively introducing a less allergenic form of food protein may help the child outgrow his food allergies early on, and I strongly advocate this.

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Q: In what ways do you think your expertise can improve your patients’ lives?

Living with allergies is never easy. I constantly work with my patients to appropriately diagnose allergies and control symptoms as much as possible through measures such as reducing environmental allergens and other triggers, managing them with appropriate symptom medication and providing them with appropriate action plans. This equips them to manage symptomatic flares. For patients with bad allergic rhinitis symptoms, I help modulate their body’s allergic response by offering house dust mite sublingual immunotherapy treatments. I also offer to make school visits to educate caregivers and teachers on my patients’ allergic conditions and train them to provide these children with appropriate emergency care.

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