Alpha-gal Syndrome or Red Meat Allergy

Alpha-gal Syndrome or Red Meat Allergy Is caused by a tick bite that leads to the production of antibodies against carbohydrate galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose that is in the saliva of the tick. This same carbohydrate is present in red meat. If you have a reaction to the tick bite, where you make antibodies to this substance, then you may react to red meat which also has this carbohydrate.

This is typically a delayed reaction that occurs two or more hours after eating red meat.

Signs and Symptoms of Alpha-gal Syndrome may include:

  • Hives, itching, or itchy, scaly skin (eczema)
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • A runny nose
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Anaphylaxis – the most deadly reaction of all

Treatment consists of avoidance of red meat for at least two years (after that the reaction may go away) and to carry an Epi-Pen.

A blood test will be done to determine whether or not you have this condition.

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