What is Alpha-gal syndrome, and why should we be alert to the symptoms?

At Atlantic Gastroenterology of Brooklyn, New York, our Board-certified gastroenterologist, Dr. Alexander Shapsis, works with patients to help them with a broad spectrum of digestive concerns. One condition that is becoming more prominent and needs further attention and studies is Alpha-gal syndrome, which begins as a food allergy to certain red meats. Let’s look closely at this condition, the symptoms, and what you should do if you suspect you are experiencing the symptoms of Alpha-gal syndrome.

Alpha Gal Syndrome in Brooklyn NY Area

What is Alpha-gal syndrome, and what can cause it?

Dr. Alexander Shapsis describes Alpha-gal syndrome, also known by the acronym “AGS,” as an allergy to red meat. In 2023, the Center for Disease Control, or CDC, notified physicians about the risk of emerging cases of Alpha-gal syndrome, which has been linked to the Lone Star tick that may have bitten a cow that becomes meat for consumption. This condition is becoming more relevant and is found in beef more than any other type of red meat. It can affect individuals of all genders and ages, including children, and physicians are to be aware of these types of cases–especially in situations where individuals end up in the emergency room with symptoms approximately six hours after consumption of the affected red meat.

What are some of the food allergy symptoms of Alpha-gal syndrome?

Some of the symptoms that might be indicative of AGS red meat allergy include:

  • Rashes and welts on the skin
  • Itching of the skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any of these issues, it may warrant an immediate visit to the emergency room to get a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment. 

Treatment for this condition often includes:

  • Using medications for allergic reactions
  • Avoiding additional tick bites
  • Being mindful of consuming red meats that may contact alpha-gal

How do I learn more about this and other concerns to be aware of?

If you are experiencing gastroenterology symptoms related to Alpha-gal syndrome, you may need to make a trip to the emergency room for immediate professional care.

Dr. Alexander Shapsis and his team at Atlantic Gastroenterology can also be reached by calling 718 521-2840 and visiting one of his two office locations, including Ocean Parkway and Court Street in Brooklyn, NY.

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