What are Meat Allergies?

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Meat allergies may seem bizarre, but they are becoming more and more common. Currently, doctors know of two types of meat allergies: one due to a specific protein in meat and animal product and one caused by the Lone Star tick called Alpha-gal.

Meat Protein Allergy

If your child is allergic to eggs and milk, they may have an allergy to certain types of meat. Meat Allergies can develop in childhood or event in adulthood. The most common type of meat to be allergic to is beef. The allergy is triggered by the immune system producing immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) which fight off the proteins found in meat.

The signs of a meat allergy are:

  • Stomach pain and cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Rashes or itchy skin

  • Difficulty Breathing

Typically, meat allergy signs appear within seconds or minutes. If you believe that you or your child could have a meat allergy, try removing meat from your diet and seeing your doctor about meat allergies.  Gelatin, stock cubes, calcium stearate (E470) and stearic acid can be triggers of meat allergies due to being made from animal products.

If you are diagnosed with a meat allergy, work with a nutritionist and your doctor to develop a meal plan that will avoid meat and any byproducts that may trigger your allergy. Childhood meat allergy can be outgrown withing the first years of life, but always check with your doctor before reintroducing meat to them.

Alpha-gal Syndrome

The Lone Star tick lives mainly in the Southeast regions of the United States, and have been found in Europe, Australia and Asia. The tick’s bite transmits alpha-gal, a sugar that triggers allergic reaction when red meat is consumed. The allergic reaction may not happen instantly; it can take up to three to eight hours to appear.

The typical signs of Alpha-gal Syndrome are:

  • Hives or itchy, scaly skin

  • Trouble Breathing

  • Increased Heart Rate

  • Low Blood Pressure

  • Swelling of the lips, eyes, tongue and throat

  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea

If you or your child experience food allergy symptoms after or several hours after eating meat, contact your doctor as soon as possible to get tested. Emergency medical treatment is needed if you or your child develop signs of anaphylaxis, such as: rapid or weak pulse, difficulty breathing, dizziness, drooling and inability to swallow, and full body redness.

The best way of prevention is to be vigilant whenever you go outside. Remove ticks as soon as possible with tweezers, but be careful to not squeeze or crush the tick when removing it. If you or your child find a tick bite, apply antiseptic to the bite area. Insect repellents and covering up is a good way of preventing ticks from biting you. Finally, take showers when returning inside. Ticks can stay on the skin for fours before attaching themselves. Currently, there is no cure to Alpha-gal Syndrome; the only treatment is to avoid the consumption of red meat.

Do you or someone in your family have meat allergies? Tell us in the comments below and share any tips you have in regards to meat allergies!