Do you have Alpha-gal disease?

Alpha-gal

Tick-borne illness causes red-meat allergy

Research biologists believe Alpha-gal syndrome is one of the fastest-growing, and most misdiagnosed, illnesses among today’s population.

Alpha-gal syndrome is a disease that makes humans allergic to sugars that are found in the tissues of all mammals except humans and other primates. The most well-known symptom of the disease is that it causes severe allergic reactions to those infected any time they eat red meat. And we’re not talking about runny noses or a quick trip to the bathroom.

Those suffering from Alpha-gal syndrome have reactions that range from skin rashes to breathing difficulty to extreme gastrointestinal (GI) distress that can be life-threatening.

The most common way of contracting the disease is getting bitten by a Lone Star tick. These ticks inhabit the entire eastern and southern portions of the United States, and are found in all areas frequented by hunters and other outdoorsmen. And it’s not just eating red meat that causes reactions. Coming into contact with items made with meat byproducts can also cause severe symptoms. Many common items like toothpaste, makeup, lotion, soap, and countless other items contain red meat byproducts. Sugar and many brands of bottled water are filtered through cattle bones, which, for some victims, can lead to the same symptoms as eating a 16-ounce ribeye.

Get tested

Unfortunately, diagnosing the disease has proven problematic. Many doctors either don’t know about the disease at all, or don’t think about it when meeting with a patient suffering from its symptoms. Many patients are misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, Lyme disease and other illnesses. And as long as they continue eating red meat or otherwise coming into contact with items made with meat byproducts, their symptoms will continue and more than likely worsen over time.

Outdoorsmen have a higher propensity for the disease than the general population, simply because they frequent areas with heavy tick populations more often than others. But the most common tests administered to patients with symptoms of Alpha-gal, do not detect the presence of the disease.

If you suspect you have Alpha-gal syndrome, ask your doctor for a blood test that looks for immunoglobulin-E antibodies that are specific to Alpha-gal.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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