Alpha Galactose (Gal) Allergy IgE Blood Test
The Alpha-Galactose (Alpha-Gal) Allergy IgE Blood Test measures the IgE antibody levels in the blood to detect an allergy to alpha-gal.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Alpha-Galactose (Alpha-Gal) Allergy IgE Blood Test to measure the IgE antibody levels in the blood to detect an adverse reaction to alpha-galactose (alpha-gal). Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule found in mammals, such as beef, pork, rabbit, lamb, and venison. In addition, alpha-gal can be found in red meat and products made from mammals, including gelatin, cow's milk, and milk products. Unfortunately, alpha-gal may trigger some hypersensitive individuals to experience a potentially severe allergic reaction, known as Alpha-Gal syndrome (AGS), after consuming red meat or red meat-based products.
In the United States, this condition often occurs after an individual has been bitten by a Lone Star tick. This tick is found primarily in the southeastern states, with most cases of AGS occurring in this region. However, the tick can also be found in the eastern and south-central United States. In addition, the condition appears to spread farther north and west as wildlife carries the Lone Star tick to other parts of the United States. Nonetheless, other tick species have been associated with the development of AGS in other countries. Therefore, additional research is needed to understand ticks' role in triggering this reaction and why specific individuals develop AGS.
What causes an allergy to alpha-gal?
Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule found in the saliva of the Lone Star tick, usually after feeding on the blood of mammals like cows, pigs, sheep, and deer. Individuals that have been bitten by this tick, especially those bitten repeatedly, become sensitized and start to produce IgE antibodies that cause an allergic reaction known as Alph-Gal syndrome (AGS). AGS symptoms may occur 3-8 hours after consuming red meat and even medications containing alpha-gal. For example, Cetuximab is a cancer medication that contains alpha-gal. Therefore, individuals allergic to this medication have an increased risk for red meat allergy and likely have been bitten by ticks in the past.
When should I order an Alpha-Gal Allergy IgE Blood Test?
Individuals may order this Alpha-Gal Allergy IgE Blood Test if they have experienced symptoms related to AGS or a red meat allergy. Allergy symptoms vary depending on the individual, ranging from mild to severe reactions. Most AGS symptoms occur within three to eight hours of ingestion.
An allergic reaction may affect the skin, intestinal lining, and air pathways. Individuals with an AGS or red meat allergy may experience the following symptoms:
- Tingling sensation near or around the mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Nausea or vomiting
- Itching or hives
- Difficulty breathing, swallowing or wheezing
A serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may sometimes occur. An anaphylactic response requires immediate medical attention. Signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:
- Rapid or increased heart rate
- Swollen throat or lump making it difficult to breathe
- Low blood pressure
- Extreme dizziness or loss of consciousness
What products should I avoid if I have an alpha-gal allergy?
Individuals allergic to alpha-gal should avoid all red meat-based products, including:
- Red meat (such as beef, pork, lamb, venison, rabbit, etc.)
- Meat broth, stock, gravy, or bouillon
- Cow's milk
- Milk products
- Canned soups and stews
- Products made from or cooked in mammalian fat
- Certain meat dishes
- Frozen meals that may contain red meat
- Certain medications
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