Alpha gal syndrome: allergy to red meat

A class of allergy to red meat, as well as to other foods from animals, is known as alpha gal syndrome. In this case, the onset of the pathology does not occur spontaneously or by genetic alterations, but is motivated by the bite of a type of insect. Specific, it is a tick that is capable of causing the condition.

From the bite an autoimmune reaction is generated that ends in the syndrome in question. Once at this point, it is impossible to consume red meat again, as adverse side effects are experienced.

Are there risk factors for alpha gal syndrome?

Most cases of alpha gal syndrome have occurred in the United States, specifically in the southeastern region. In this area is the insect capable of triggering the problem with its bite.

However, little by little more demonstrations are being identified in other areas of the country. Cases have even been dated in Europe and Asia. In any case, the main risk factor is belonging to a geographic region with a high tick population.

Also, the fact of having experienced shocks Anaphylactic after ingestion of other products also generates an increase in the chances of developing the disease. Nonetheless, the key is to avoid exposing yourself to the tick bite. Without it, it is not possible for the problem to manifest itself, according to a study published in Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde.

Ticks are the culprits of alpha gal syndrome and it is striking, as it would be an allergy triggered by a bite.

To learn more: Does vitamin C help fight allergies?

What are the symptoms of alpha gal syndrome?

The symptoms of alpha gal syndrome are the same as in the case of any other food allergy, although they usually take longer to manifest. The reaction is triggered after 3 hours of exposure to red meat and the most frequent signs are the following:

  • Stomach pain and diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Urticaria with lesions on the skin.
  • Headache.
  • Shock anaphylactic.

Keep in mind that the shock requires specialized medical care. Otherwise, it can put the patient's life at risk, as evidenced by research published in the journal Vnitr Lekarstvi. There is a greater risk of this phenomenon if it has already been experienced previously after ingesting another product.

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When to consult a doctor?

If you begin to notice that you have a recurring and uncomfortable reaction after consuming red meat or any derivative product it is important that you go to the doctor. They can perform diagnostic tests to identify allergy and alpha gal syndrome.

If you experience the following symptoms, you will need to go to the emergency room immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Increased pulse.
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to swallow


To make a diagnosis of this type of allergy it is necessary to prepare a medical history. In parallel, it will be useful to develop a physical examination.

Too a red meat tolerance test with immunoglobulin measurement may be required. This has proven to be the most effective method for detecting allergy itself, although to associate it with alpha gal syndrome it will help to detect marks of a bite or references to having suffered it.

The red meat associated with this allergy are not only the products themselves, but also their derivatives.

Treatment and prevention of alpha gal syndrome

There is only one way to prevent alpha gal syndrome and that is to avoid areas where insects are concentrated. In the case of having to go to one, it is recommended to use repellants so that they do not bite. Special care must be taken in the case of living in a house with a garden in a region where these types of insects abound.

Regarding treatment, it should be noted that there is no solution to the problem. You can bet on avoiding the intake of red meat in the diet, completely eliminating such foods. They will have to be replaced by others with a high protein content, such as eggs.

Alpha gal syndrome: a rare disorder

Despite the fact that it is a very bulky problem that conditions eating habits, alpha gal syndrome is rare. Its incidence depends a lot on the population in question, since the fact of living in certain areas of the United States is considered a risk factor.

However, keep in mind that precautions can be taken to avoid the tick bite. This will make it impossible for alpha gal syndrome to develop. Do not forget that once it appears it has no solution, so it only remains to remove the red meat and its derivatives from the diet.

Come to this situation it will be essential to adapt the diet to avoid protein deficiencies that condition health. The best thing is to increase your intake of eggs and white meat.

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