What Are the Warning Signs of Alpha Gal?

Written by | Medically Reviewed by | Updated on

Between 63 and 74% of Americans consume red or processed meat each day. As a heavy part of American culture, we often do not think twice about the meat we consume.

Red meat especially gets bypassed as an allergy concern. But a recently identified type of allergy is changing that.

Alpha gal syndrome is a serious allergic reaction to a sugar molecule found in many mammals that could potentially turn deadly if not treated promptly. Read on to learn about the warning signs.

Symptoms of Alpha Gal

With all allergic reactions, the body produces an excessive amount of antibodies to attack the antigen on the allergen. This heightened immune response triggers a number of symptoms.

Possible alpha gal signs include:

  • Itchy rash, hives, or scaley skin
  • Runny nose with or without sneezing
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

More serious alpha gal symptoms include:

  • Wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath
  • Fainting from a drop in blood pressure
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, throat
  • Drooling and inability to swallow

These signs of anaphylaxis signify a medical emergency. They will not go away on their own. They require epinephrine and a medical examination.

Red Meat Reaction

The generalized symptoms of an allergic reaction can point to many culprits. How do you know alpha gal caused them?

A serious reaction happening a couple of hours after eating red meat gives you a good indication. But you may still question if something else caused it unless it happens again.

You can track less serious reactions more easily. If you notice symptoms starting after meaty meals, cut out the meat to see if you feel better.

Dairy Sours Your Stomach

Another warning sign that you’re dealing with alpha gal allergy is that dairy triggers adverse reactions. This sugar commonly found in red meat also passes into the milk.

You may notice a reaction after ingesting:

  • Milk
  • Creamer
  • Ice cream
  • Dairy-based yogurt
  • Cheese

Less obvious sources include gelatin and premixed products with hidden dairy. Working with a wellness professional on an elimination diet can help you pinpoint the problem.

Tick Bite

Alpha gal causes do not all stem from the food you eat. Pay attention to what is eating you.

A tick bite can actually trigger this allergic response to these foods. When the tick latches on, it can transmit something that triggers anti-alpha IgE in your system. This is the antibody that causes the immune response.

If you suspect that you may suffer from alpha gal, look on your body for a red spot. It may contain a black spot from the tick.

Tik bites can sometimes be difficult to spot. Look hard if you experience these symptoms and were recently in high grass or woods.

Seek Alpha Gal Treatment

Alpha gal allergy can create devastating effects in your life. It could mean eliminating a favorite food and it initiates the fear that you may accidentally ingest something that could hurt you. This makes seeking treatment necessary.

We made it our mission to understand how alpha gal allergy works so that we can help treat you. Book your appointment today!

Meet Our Expert: Deborah Farley

Deborah FarleyFounder of Acupuncture Works,LLC in Lynchburg Virginia. Deborah is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Medicine as a Licensed Acupuncturist (L. Ac.).

She is also licensed by the State of Florida as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM). Deborah is a Diplomate of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

She graduated from the East West College of Natural Medicine with a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor’s Degree of Professional Health Sciences.

Learn More