When you think of food allergies, you probably think about people being allergic to foods like shellfish, peanut butter or soy. Beef? Not so much. While an allergy to meat is rare, it can affect some people. Let’s examine some of the causes as well as treatment options if you are allergic to meat.
Symptoms of Meat Allergy
Symptoms of a meat allergy are similar to any other food allergy. They can range from mild to severe and develop almost immediately or over the course of several hours. They may include:
- Rash or hives
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Swollen, watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Dizziness and confusion
Some people with food allergies experience anaphylaxis. This is a rare but life-threatening condition that constricts your airways. It requires immediate medical attention.
Why Are Some People Allergic to Meat?
If you are allergic to meat your body perceives it (or a substance within it) as harmful. Whenever you ingest it, the allergen binds to IgE antibodies and causes cells to release the chemical, histamine, which in turn causes your allergy symptoms.
It’s often impossible to know why exactly a person develops an allergy to a particular food, and for many people with meat allergies, there will be no clear answer. However, some people develop an allergy to red meat (including beef and pork) after being bitten by a Lone Star tick. When people have an allergy to meat due to a bite from a Lone Star tick, symptoms often don’t appear for several hours after eating.
The Lone Star tick is typically found in Southeast states, including South Carolina.
If you believe you are allergic to meat there are several steps you can take.
- Eliminate meat from your diet for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve. While it might be hard to skip your regular trips to Ted’s Butcherblock, removing meat from your diet can help you determine whether or not it is causing your allergy symptoms.
- Visit an allergist. The only way to know for sure if you have an allergy is to get tested. Your allergist will order skin prick and/or blood tests to determine if you have an allergy to meat or another type of food.
- Avoid meat permanently. If you do have an allergy to a certain kind of meat, the only way to truly prevent symptoms is to avoid eating it. This may mean you have to be extra aware of what is in your food or check ahead with restaurants to make sure they have safe options for you.
If you have additional questions about food allergies or wish to schedule an appointment, contact Charleston ENT & Allergy today.