Alpha Gal and Allergy to Meat!

Alpha Gal

Alpha Gal – (galactose-α-1,3-galactose) is a sugar molecule found in most mammals, but not humans.  The Lone Star Tick can transmit this sugar molecule to people, which can cause the immune system to react when eating meat products.  

The body’s immune reaction to eating meat can be:

  • eczema-like skin reactions including hives, itching, or scaly skin.
  • Swelling of lips, face, tongue, and throat.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath. Runny nose.
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Headaches.

In severe sases anaphylaxis can occur which leads to a potentially deadly allergic reaction with restricted breathing.

  • Constriction of airways
  • Swelling of throat
  • Severe drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness

These reactions may be delayed from the time of a tick bite to when symptoms appear. This is due to the fact that alpha-gal molecules take longer than other allergens to be digested and entered into the circulatory system.

Prevention and Treatment:

There is no cure for this Alpha-Gal syndrome, therefore prevention is the main protectant against this syndrome.  Avoiding meat if infected is crucial after known infection, and the severity of the immune reaction can diminish over time, and can go away in some infected individuals.