Alpha-gal or galactose alpha-1, 3-galactose is a carbohydrate present in the cells of animals which we consume as food. It is commonly found in the cells of mammals and certain poultry. As a consequence to an autoimmune response, some people develop an allergy to alpha gal.
Those who have this allergy usually experience some uneasiness after they consume meat; or they could even have a severe anaphylactic reaction.
What Causes Alpha Gal Allergy?
People are not born with an alpha-gal allergy. By and large, most people develop the allergy as an adult. Bites from ticks cause alpha gal allergies. Ticks contain alpha gal, and a bite from a tick makes the immune system respond to the alpha gal as a defense mechanism.
Antibodies which your body produces to shield you from the tick bite stay in the body from then on. These antibodies which the body synthesizes against the tick bite will react to the alpha gal when you consume meat in which it is present.
If you dwell in a place where lone star ticks are widespread, you are at a huge risk of developing the allergy.
Experts don’t know how long after the tick bite, the allergy commences and lasts. Further bites are known to cause a return of the allergy even if it becomes inactive.
Symptoms Of Alpha Gal Allergy
The manifestations of alpha gal allergy are:
- A runny nose
- Sneezing and coughing
- Chest congestion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Asthma, breathlessness
- Anaphylaxis – a severe response which shuts down your capacity to breathe and can even be fatal.
Treatment And Prevention Of Alpha Gal Allergy
The symptoms of alpha gal allergy are managed using over-the-counter antihistamines. In case of strong reactions, you may have to discuss with your health care provider and you may need epinephrine shots. It is very vital that the diagnosis is made quickly and the treatment regimen started promptly.
If you discover and ascertain that you have an alpha gal allergy, you must confer with your health care provider as well as a nutritionist; set to work to identify and recognize your specific triggers. By and large, you need to steer clear of all kinds of red meat. Dairy products as well as some poultry products also contain alpha gal; you must isolate your specific trigger and steadily avoid it.
In case, your symptoms are very serious when you have an allergic reaction, you should start carrying a handy epinephrine treatment with you in case of an emergency. Also, ensure that your family, friends and co-workers, know what to do in an eventuality of a severe allergic reaction.
What’s more, make sure, ticks do not bite you; use an insect repellent when you go exploring forest areas, and wear long trousers and sleeves when in the woods. Also check your scalp, hair, arms, and ears repeatedly for ticks which could be trying to fasten onto your body. Importantly, know the correct method to eliminate and throw off a tick if you do get bitten.