What Is A Beef Allergy (Alpha-Gal Syndrome)?
Beef allergies are becoming more common in the U.S. and other parts of the world. This allergy is related to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in mammalian cell membranes. Because of this, a beef allergy is also called alpha-gal syndrome. This allergy can be caused by Lone Star ticks. A bite from this tick has caused many people to develop an allergy to beef.
A food coloring allergy can also explain an allergic reaction to beef. Some people show reactions to carmine, the main dye found in red meat. A typical allergic reaction to beef or alpha-gal has a delayed onset. Most symptoms occur 3-8 hours after consumption, which has made the allergy hard to diagnose.
Beef Allergy Symptoms
- Hives, itching, or beef allergy rash
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat, or other body parts
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
Some medications also contain alpha-gal. So, if you experience symptoms of a beef allergy after eating beef, you may need to avoid medications with alpha-gal epitopes.
Medications that include alpha-gal epitopes:
Cetuximab, used in chemotherapy
Crotalidae antivenom, used to treat snake bites
Equine antivenom, used to treat snake bites
Infliximab, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
For a full list of medications that include alpha-gal epitopes, contact your pharmacy. You should also consult with a food allergy doctor for a beef allergy food list.
Beef Allergy Diagnosis
This allergy is best diagnosed with a blood test. An allergy blood test can measure the amount of alpha-gal antibodies in your blood. This test is more accurate than other methods of beef allergy testing, but it can take several days to get your results. During this time, avoid beef allergy foods.
Beef Allergy Treatment
There isn’t a cure for food allergies; however, you can possibly prevent a beef allergy. Start by protecting yourself from tick bites. When outside, use tick repellent. Also, wear long sleeves while hiking in rural areas where Lone Star ticks are present. They can be found in the southeastern part of New York.
To treat your symptoms related to this beef allergy sensitivity, ask an allergist about the best medications for your condition. For most severe food allergies, an epinephrine injection needs to be prescribed to treat possible anaphylaxis. Your allergist will teach you to use an Epipen or Auvi-Q. You should carry this with you in the event of a beef allergy reaction.
Beef Allergy Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Be Allergic to Beef?
If you’ve been bitten by a Lone Star Tick, you might be allergic to beef. Call one of our allergy specialists for a diagnosis.
How Is Beef Allergy Diagnosed?
An allergist can diagnose your beef allergy with a quick allergy test. In many cases, you will need a food challenge to confirm the diagnosis of a beef allergy.
How Is Beef Allergy Treated?
Beef allergy is treated with strict avoidance and antihistamines. For more serious allergies, you may need an epinephrine auto-injector. Your allergist can train you how to use it.
Is Beef Allergy Curable?
No, beef allergy is not curable. However, if you’re allergic to beef, contact NY Allergy & Sinus Centers for allergy management.
Why Are People Allergic to Beef?
Most people are allergic to beef because of a Lone Star Tick bite. If you’ve been bitten by a tick, seek treatment from a board-certified allergist.
For a beef allergy diagnosis and other allergy care, contact a board-certified allergist. At NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, all of our physicians are board certified with extensive experience in allergy, immunology, sinus, and asthma care. We offer seven convenient allergy and sinus clinics throughout Manhattan and Queens. Our allergists are available six days a week. Call (718) 416-0207 to book your appointment today!