What’s the Beef with Alpha Gal?
Have you ever heard of Alpha-Gal Syndrome? Dr. Aaron Workman of Chambers Medical Group, one of the highest rated auto injury medical facilities in the Lexington area, points out the concerns of this syndrome. It is a kind of allergy that is quite different from others. Alpha-Gal Syndrome, or AGS for short, is a special type of food allergy. It happens when a certain kind of tick, called the Lone Star tick, bites a person. The tricky part is that the symptoms show up a few hours after eating red meat like beef, pork, or lamb. This delay can make it hard to figure out what is causing the problem. A recent study has shown this unique allergy is on the rise. From 2017 to 2021 the CDC reported a steady increase of some 15,000 new cases annually. This suggests more people are experiencing the effects of AGS or we are testing more for it. Either way you should be aware of AGS if you are in the various regions where the Lone Star Tick resides.
Why the Name Alpha-Gal
It is named Alpha-Gal after a sugar molecule found in red meat called “galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose.” When the Lone Star tick bites, it puts this molecule into the body. Our immune system thinks it is bad and fights against it by making antibodies. When a person with Alpha-Gal Syndrome eventually eats red meat, the immune system gets confused and releases chemicals like histamines. This leads to different symptoms, which can range from mild to severe.
Spotting the Symptoms and Getting Answers
The symptoms of Alpha-Gal Syndrome can be different for everyone. Most often people get itchy skin, hives, or stomach troubles. Others might have a very serious reaction called anaphylaxis. The problem is that the symptoms do not show up right away, so it is hard to figure out what is causing them. Doctors use a combination of your health history, your activities and where you have been, what you are feeling and special tests to figure out if you have Alpha-Gal Syndrome. A blood test can help find those antibodies and confirm if you have it.
Dealing with Alpha-Gal Syndrome
If you are diagnosed with Alpha-Gal Syndrome, you will need to change your diet. The best way to avoid symptoms is to stay away from red meat and foods made from it. That means saying goodbye to burgers, delicious bacon, lamb, and everything that contains them. Be extra careful about reading food labels. Red meat can sneak into foods you do not expect. Just like peanut allergies, watch out for cross-contamination in kitchens and restaurants because even a tiny bit of red meat can cause a reaction.
That Lone Star Tick is the main reason behind Alpha-Gal Syndrome. These ticks are common in some parts of the United States, especially in the southeast. But they have been spotted in other places too, probably because they hitch rides on animals and people. To avoid getting bitten by these ticks, you can wear protective clothing, use bug spray, and check yourself, kids, and pets for ticks after being outdoors. If you expect you have been bitten, follow up with a health care professional.
— This article is written by Aaron Workman, DC, one of the members of Chambers Medical Group’s team of car accident chiropractors who offer a variety of treatments and therapies ranging from diagnostic testing to various soft tissue therapies for car accidents and injuries in Kentucky.
Have you been in a car accident? If you or somebody you know has been in a car accident, be sure that you seek medical attention from a car accident doctor or car accident chiropractor to treat your injuries. Visit Chambers Medical Group to receive world-class medical treatment for your injuries.
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