Red meat allergies explained

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If you love steak and hamburgers, but can’t eat them because they make you break out in hives or worse, you may be suffering from a red meat allergy. This relatively new phenomenon is believed to be caused by a tick bite. Here’s what you need to know about red meat allergies:

What are the symptoms of a red meat allergy?

The most common symptom of a red meat allergy is an itchy rash called urticaria, which can occur within minutes of eating red meat. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening).

What causes a red meat allergy?

Red meat allergies are believed to be caused by a bite from the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). This tick is found in the southeastern and eastern United States, and its range is expanding. The theory is that the tick bites people and animals, and in doing so, transfers a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into their bloodstream. Once alpha-gal is in your system, your body produces antibodies to it. The next time you eat red meat (beef, pork, lamb), your body recognizes the alpha-gal sugar molecule and mounts an immune response, leading to the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

How is a red meat allergy diagnosed?

If you suspect you have a red meat allergy, the best thing to do is see an allergist. They will likely perform a skin prick test or blood test to look for antibodies to alpha-gal. If you are found to be allergic, the only way to manage it is to avoid red meat altogether.

What should I do if I think I have a red meat allergy?

If you think you may have a red meat allergy, see an allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, avoid eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and any products that contain it. If you are accidentally exposed to red meat, be sure to carry your epinephrine injector (if prescribed by your allergist) with you at all times in case you have a severe allergic reaction.

Beef allergy

A beef allergy is a hypersensitivity to beef and products derived from it. The most common symptom of a beef allergy is an  itchy rash, which can occur within minutes of eating beef or coming into contact with it. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening). If you suspect you might be allergic to this type of red meat you should get a beef allergy test.

Lamb Allergy

A lamb allergy is a reaction to lamb and lamb products. The typical sign of a lamb allergy is a rash that occurs within minutes of eating lamb or. Symptoms of a food allergy vary according to the food you are allergic to. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and in rare cases anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening) are all examples of this. If you suspect you’re allergic to lamb meat, get a lamb allergy test.

Pork Allergy

A sensitivity to pork is known as a pork allergy. The most prevalent symptom of a pork allergy is an itchy rash, which can appear minutes after consuming food containing pork.

Final thoughts

If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms after consuming red meat, it’s best to seek professional help to determine if you have a red meat allergy. Once diagnosed, the only way to manage a red meat allergy is to avoid consuming beef, pork, and lamb altogether. Be sure to carry your epinephrine injector (if prescribed by an allergist) with you at all times in case of accidental exposure and severe reaction