Allergy from food is relatively common, affecting 2% of adults and 8% of children worldwide. People may be allergic to certain foods by birth or may develop an allergy over the years. People may have allergy from beef, lamb, game pork, or poultry, but meat is less common if we compare it to other sources of allergies like eggs, cow’s milk, and soy shellfish, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, and fish, etc.
Meat allergy is uncommon because the protein in meat known for causing allergies to become less reactive when meat is cooked. While there is still no proven cure, the allergic subjects may develop a wide range of mutton allergy symptoms. These symptoms are usually subsided without treatment and rarely convert into anaphylaxis. In this article, we will deliberate about everything related to meat allergy. Let’s start with some important aspects of meat allergy.
Some Important Factors Related to Meat Allergy
- If you start feeling stuffiness of the nose after consuming meat, or you develop nausea or skin rash after eating meat, it’s possible that you are allergic to meat.
- Meat from any source, including beef, goat, lamb, pork, seal, or even whale, can induce an allergic reaction. While the allergy from meat is not common, there is a rise in cases in the last few years, mainly due to improvement in diagnostic procedures.
- A bite from Lone Star tick may also cause meat allergy, including allergy from beef and pork. The Lone Star tick has been recognized as a factor responsible for an allergy from red meat in the US, predominantly in the Southeast. Some cases of meat allergy from Lone Star tick are noted from New England as well.
- A person may develop an allergy to meat at any stage of life.
- If you are already allergic to meat, you may develop an allergy to other forms of meat and poultry like duck, chicken, turkey, etc.
- According to studies, a very small percentage of children having milk allergies also shown various mutton allergy symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Meat Allergy
Like allergies from other foods, products, or particles, when you have an allergy to meat, your immune system overreacts to the meat consumption (it’s really hard to underline the specific reason). Your body discharges a chemical called “histamine” in response to meat proteins. And the reaction due to the release of histamine may be mild to severe.
Histamine may cause immediate as well as profound effects, causing a dilatation of blood vessels and activation of mucus-producing cells, leading to a wide range of respiratory, dermatologic, and gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
- Hives (urticaria)
- Generalized tissue swelling (angioedema)
- Swollen, teary eyes
- Asthma attack or exacerbation
- Rapid heart rate
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Indigestion and nausea
- Stomach cramps
Depending on the sternness of the allergy and response from your body, these mutton allergy symptoms may appear suddenly or may take a few hours.
Although the rapid appearance of symptoms is rare but can be an all-body, life-threatening reaction called “anaphylaxis.” If not given the immediate and correct treatment, anaphylaxis may lead to cardiac or respiratory failure, fainting, shock, come, and even death.
Symptoms are usually manageable if they appear within four to five years (not immediately). However, unlike all other types of food allergies, a delayed reaction may be severe, and anaphylaxis can affect the patient even after many, many hours of consuming meat.
Causes of Meat Allergy
Anyone at any age may develop an allergy to meat. However, certain people are usually at higher risk of developing an allergy. People with specific blood groups, tick bites, past infections, co-existing food allergies, atopic dermatitis, etc., are usually prone to getting meat allergies.
Like most of the other types of food allergies, the exact cause of meat allergy is unidentified. However, over time, medical researchers unearthed some factors that can trigger allergy from mat and poultry.
Allergy from Red Meat
Also known as an alpha-gal allergy or mammalian meat allergy (MMA), red meat allergy commonly affects people with blood groups A and O. According to studies, this is mainly because the B antigen in B and AB blood groups most resembles the meat allergens triggering the meat allergy, and provide timely innate protection.
When it comes to beef, pork, lamb, and other meats from mammalians, the allergen is a specific molecule known as alpha-gal sugar and is present in almost all mammals except humans.
This special sugar molecule is not what constructs the more common forms of sugar found in cakes, cookies, and a range of other sweet foods. And you don’t necessarily have to check the labels of ready-to-eat food packages for “type of sugar.”
While persons with A or O blood groups are at higher risk of getting meat allergy, experts suggest that specific infections or already existing allergies may also favor the trigger of allergic responses.
Bite of lone star stick is among the most common triggers of meat allergy. Places like Central and Southern United States are homes to the lone star tick, but it may be found in other places.
The lone star tick sucks the blood from mammals whose meat is packed with alpha-gal sugar, known as the north-eastern water tick or turkey tick. When the tick introduces the human body, it injects the alpha-gal sugar into the bloodstream and makes the person sensitized to alpha-gal.
While beef is the biggest culprit in this scenario, other types of meat proteins may also trigger a different, hypersensitive response.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, specific blood groups are more reactive to red meat allergy. People with B or AB blood groups are usually less likely to have an allergy to red meat.
Poultry allergy is even less common than that of allergy from the meat. If someone is allergic to poultry, it is usually due to improperly cooked chicken, turkey, or other farmed or wild poultry.
Some people having a known allergy to eggs may also develop a cross-reactive condition called “bird-egg syndrome.” In this condition, even exposure to feathers of poultry may trigger various mutton allergy symptoms, mainly those liked with the respiratory system. However, very interestingly, the condition is more linked with an allergy to chicken eggs rather than the chicken itself.
Adolescents and young adults are usually affected with a “true poultry allergy.” However, the first signs of hyperreactivity may also reflect in the preschool years. People with poultry allergies are sometimes allergic to fish and possibly shrimp as well. For such individuals, a co-existing allergy from eggs is very rare, and there is a very low risk of anaphylaxis.
Diagnosis of Meat Allergy
Experiencing certain symptoms after eating meat usually leads to suspected allergy. You will have to meet an allergist to confirm the diagnosis. The allergist may perform various a number of allergy tests, including:
- A skin prick test: In this test, very tiny meat protein particles are placed beneath your skin to study if there is any abnormal behavior from the skin.
- An allergy blood test to find the antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
- An elimination diet to find and remove the suspected allergens, most probably meat and meat-derived products, from your diet to check the symptoms if they improve.
Management and Treatment
Meat allergy treatment depends on the diagnosis and severity of symptoms. As far as management is concerned, carefully checking the ingredient labels on prepared or processed foods can go a long way to avoid allergic reactions.
You must have to be very cautious while eating out. Talking to restaurant staff about the ingredients of your food is not a bad idea at all!
If you have suspected or confirmed mutton allergy, you must have to be careful about what you eat. Your allergist may help you with special cookbooks to prepare meals completely free from mutton or its derivatives.
Managing A Severe Reaction
Epinephrine is a common drug used for treating anaphylaxis of almost all types of food allergies. Of course, it’s not the proven meat allergy treatment, but it can ease the severe onset of allergic reactions.
Anaphylaxis of any kind of food allergy may lead to shock, coma, and even death. Hence, it is extremely important to take the patient to a nearby medical facility for immediate medical management.
Auto-injectors containing epinephrine are also available at certain medical stores. And patients with a confirmed diagnosis of meat allergy should keep a couple of auto-injectors handy, especially when they travel.
Meat allergy is not very common but can be severe, especially if not managed properly and timely. Hopefully, you are now well educated about various important aspects of meat allergy. Hopefully, you are now well prepared to deal with mild mutton allergy symptoms. As we have already suggested, severe reactions or anaphylaxis must not be ignored. Yes, there is no cure for meat allergy as of now. But doctors may provide timely management and treatment according to different symptoms. In short, being informed about symptoms may be proved very, very handy to save a patient from possible anaphylaxis.