After Eid al-Adha, when meat is consumed abundantly, attention should be paid to meat allergy. Red meat allergy can manifest itself immediately, or it can show its effect after 3 or 6 hours. So, what is a red meat allergy, what are the symptoms? Istanbul Okan University Hospital Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ahmet Akcay explained. How Does Red Meat Allergy Develop? What Are the Symptoms of Red Meat Allergy? What are Red Meat Allergy Treatment Methods?
Meat allergy is defined as the appearance of fatal reactions such as a drop in blood pressure and fainting, as well as symptoms such as itching, hives, lip swelling, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, to allergens in the body after consumption of meat. Although the exact frequency of meat allergies is not known, it has been reported in 3 to 15 percent of children and 3 percent of adults with food allergies. The low prevalence of meat allergy may be partly attributable to the fact that most meats are eaten in cooked form and that cooking often lowers the immunogenicity of allergens. Beef allergy prevalence is the most frequently reported meat allergy. However, a beef allergy may be as high as 20 percent in children who are allergic to cow's milk.
How Does Red Meat Allergy Develop?
Linked to Milk Allergy
Children with milk allergy may also develop an allergy to beef at a rate of 20% due to cross-reaction, since the allergenic proteins in milk are also present in beef. With good cooking, allergy symptoms may not be seen.
Linked to Cat Allergy
Those with cat allergies may be allergic to pork due to cross-reaction. Those with pork allergy may be allergic to beef and pork due to cross-reaction. Be careful if you are allergic to cat hair.
Due to Tick Bite
Ticks bite animals such as cows and sheep and suck their blood. Alpha gal, a mammalian blood group allergen, is found in the stomach of ticks. When ticks bite humans, these allergens infect people's blood and cause antibodies to develop. As a result, allergy symptoms occur 3 to 6 hours after consumption of red meat.
What Are the Symptoms of Red Meat Allergy?
Both immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated and non-IgE-mediated forms of meat allergy have been described. According to these forms, the symptoms also differ. Red meat allergy due to IgE usually develops due to milk allergy and red meat allergy symptoms due to cat allergy appear within 2 hours after meat intake. Symptoms such as hives on the skin, swelling of the lips and tingling in the mouth occur especially after eating meat. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea may also be seen. Sometimes, it can cause allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, as well as allergic shock, which is a fatal reaction in the form of a drop in blood pressure and fainting.
Those who are sensitized due to tick bites usually show symptoms 3-6 hours after ingestion of meat. Because after a tick bite, one becomes sensitive to the alpha gal allergen. In order for beef containing alpha gal to develop allergy, this allergen's potential to cause allergy increases by binding to lipid or protein. Therefore, the reaction is delayed.
Red meat allergy that is not related to IgE may show symptoms as an allergic disease of the esophagus called eosinophilic esophagitis and red meat protein enterocolitis, which manifests itself as reflux, difficulty in swallowing and chest pain that does not respond to treatment. In enterocolitis syndrome, recurrent vomiting and diarrhea symptoms are observed 3-4 hours after red meat intake.
What are Red Meat Allergy Treatment Methods?
Management of food allergy most commonly involves avoiding red meat. If the patient has a reaction to raw or undercooked meat, determining whether the meat is well-done tolerated may be helpful, as the patient can retain the food in the cooked form in their diet. Increasing evidence suggests that multiple tick bites may be a risk factor for allergy to red meat. An association has been noted between A and O blood groups and susceptibility to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal). Children with atopic dermatitis or cow's milk allergy may be at increased risk. Patients with an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated meat allergy should be equipped with an epinephrine autoinjector and taught how and when to use it. General issues of food-borne anaphylaxis and avoidance of food allergens have been reviewed elsewhere. Few reports of successful desensitization protocols have been published in both adults and children with alpha-gal allergy. As alpha-gal allergy appears to improve over time without additional tick bites, it is unclear whether the risks associated with immunological desensitization confer benefit beyond the natural history of the syndrome.