Thirty-two million Americans struggle with food allergies. Each year, approximately 200,000 of these people require emergency medical attention to alleviate their symptoms.
Did you know that some of these individuals are struggling with an allergy to red meat and animal by-products due to a tick bite? For those who love their steak, this is a catastrophe.
Continue reading to learn what you need to know about an alpha-gal allergy and how to treat it.
What Is Alpha-Gal Allergy?
Alpha-gal syndrome (alpha-gal allergy) is a type of food allergy to red meat and animal-bi products. Most commonly caused by a Lone Star tick bite, the syndrome is prevalent in the Southeastern US. By taking precautions, you can avoid tick bites.
The bite transfers galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal), a sugar molecule found in all mammals besides humans and certain apes, into the bloodstream. The molecule triggers an immune system response that causes a delayed allergic reaction. The allergy stems from the ingestion of red meat (beef, pork, venison, lamb, etc) and the use of products made with animal by-products (dairy, gelatin, medicine, etc).
Signs and Symptoms of Alpha-Gal Syndrome
Unlike most allergic reactions, you may not even notice any symptoms until several hours after exposure. Once the alpha-gal allergy symptoms arise, it might be simply dealing with normal allergy symptoms:
- Extreme itching and hives
- Scaly, skin or rashes
- Swelling of lips, tongue, throat, or face
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
- Runny nose/sneezing
The reaction might even cause stomach pain and diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or even headaches. In the most severe cases, the individual might experience anaphylaxis. This includes:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid, weakened pulse
- Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
- Drooling/ inability to swallow
- Flushing of the body (getting warm and red)
It is essential to seek medical treatment right away for more severe symptoms.
Diagnosing Alpha-Gal Syndrome
To diagnose this type of allergy, an allergy specialist will go over your personal medical history as well as your family medical history. You should mention if you’ve experienced a tick bite here as it will help pinpoint if you have an alpha-gal meat allergy. The allergist will also order allergy tests including blood tests and skin prick tests to figure out what your immune system is responding to.
Treatment Options for the Allergy
Does alpha-gal allergy go away? There isn’t an alpha-gal allergy cure, but the symptoms may lessen or even disappear over time. This is more likely if you avoid another tick bite.
You can avoid allergic reactions by avoiding the triggers. Don’t eat red meat or use animal-based products. This means you will have to pay more attention to the ingredients on the labels of everything you buy. You will want to avoid foods cooked in animal lard as well as certain medications, such as Cetuximab (a cancer medication).
Treating the allergic reaction (depending on severity) can mean that you take an anti-histamine or use an EpiPen to alleviate symptoms. If you use an EpiPen, be sure to seek medical attention for evaluation.
At Acupuncture Works, we can help you achieve remission of the allergy. Soliman Auricular Allergy Treatment (SAAT) is an approved alpha-gal allergy treatment. The process includes the insertion of 3mm needles into the skin. Over time, the body develops an immune response to the allergen and becomes desensitized.
Are You Seeking Relief From Your Allergies?
It’s no surprise that allergies make you miserable. If you are seeking relief from your alpha-gal allergy, you’re in the right place. Acupuncture works because it counteracts the allergic reaction in your body.
Contact Acupuncture Works today for more information. We want you to find relief as much as you do. We look forward to hearing from you!