What Causes Alpha-Gal Syndrome?

Alpha-gal syndrome is caused by alpha-gal, a sugar compound present in all mammals except human beings. It is not found in fish, birds, or reptiles. People develop this syndrome when their bodies are allergic to red meat like beef, pork, lamb, and other animal products. Alpha-gal syndrome is also caused by a tick called the lone star tick, The Southeast and South Central United States are where ticks have historically been found. When they bite someone, they pass on the alpha-gal chemical they picked up from the animals they consumed.

Prevention for Alpha-Gal Syndrome

Alpha-gal syndrome has no cure. They can only be treated by avoiding red meat and mammal products. It is also important to save yourself from tick bites. To avoid tick bites, use insect repellent and wear long gloves, full-hand shirts, socks, and full pants when in the bushes or woods for activities like hiking, fishing, or hunting. 

After you return, take a quick bath, and if you find any ticks on your body, use tweezers to gently pull the bug off, never squeeze it between your fingers and make every effort to keep ticks out of your yard. Avoid going into deep grassy, brushy, and wooded regions since ticks may be present.

Alpha-Gal Syndrome Symptoms 

Unlike other allergies, the symptoms take between 2–8 hours to show up after the intake of meat or dairy products or exposure to tick bites. The below-listed symptoms vary from person to person.

  • Severe stomach ache
  • Itchy rashes, scaly skin
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fall in blood pressure
  • Swelling of various body parts like lips, tongue, face, throat, or eyelids.
  • Running nose
  • Dizziness

Test for Alpha-Gal Syndrome

There are two ways to test for alpha-gal syndrome.

Blood test

This requires a small amount of blood which confirms the amount of alpha-gal antibodies present in your bloodstream.

Skin test

Your skin will be pricked by a doctor and exposed to minute amounts of compounds taken from fresh or processed red meat.

What Foods Trigger Alpha-Gal?

The Alpha-Gal syndrome diet requires the elimination of meat and animal products like gelatin and milk. The liver, kidney, lung, heart, and intestines of mammals contain a high concentration of alpha-gal. Alpha-gal is typically present in food products that contain milk and milk products. Meat broth, bouillon, stock, and gravy should be avoided.

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that is caused by an alpha-gal allergy and is treated with epinephrine. The symptoms of anaphylaxis are shortness of breath, and swelling of the throat that makes it difficult to breathe. A severe drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse, wooziness, and loss of consciousness. 

Foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, chicken, eggs, quill, and sea foods like shrimp, and fish can be consumed by people with alpha-gal syndrome. 

Hope this blog helps in gaining some knowledge about Alpha-gal syndrome.