Citizens Memorial Hospital | Vitality | Summer 2024

Talk to your doctor Ask your primary care physician for help treating alpha-gal. If you don’t have a primary care physician, call 417-326-7676 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Courtney De Souza. The sugar molecule called alphagal is found in most mammals. But it is no friend to humans. It can cause a severe allergic reaction in people. Alpha-gal syndrome is associated with tick bites and certain foods. Common symptoms Alpha-gal syndrome symptoms usually appear two to six hours after exposure. They include: ● Hives or itchy rash. ● Nausea or vomiting. ● Heartburn or indigestion. ● Diarrhea. ● Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. ● Drop in blood pressure. ● Swelling of the lips, throat, tongue or eyelids. ● Dizziness or faintness. ● Severe stomach pain. Not feeling well after a tick bite? Record your symptoms and see your doctor right away. “People often start feeling ill during the night after eating meat in their evening meal,” says Courtney De Souza, M.D., a family medicine physician at Butterfield Park Medical Center. Two tests are used to confirm an alpha-gal diagnosis: ● A blood test that looks for antibodies specific to alpha-gal. ● An allergy skin test showing sensitivity to one or more meats or certain derived products. As with other allergies, the best treatment is avoiding the triggers, including: ● Gelatin. ● Pork, beef and lamb. ● Cow’s milk and milk products. “You should have an epinephrine auto-injector in case you have a severe reaction,” says Dr. De Souza. “The good news is that many people become tolerant to alpha-gal over time. They can slowly add meat and dairy products back into their diet.” 7 How to remove a tick Sometimes, tick bites happen. To remove one: Alpha-gal is not your pal Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible with clean tweezers or a tick-removal device. Use steady, even pressure to pull the tick up and out of your skin. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. That can cause part of the tick to stay in the skin. If that happens, use the tweezers to remove it. If you can’t, it’ll heal if you leave it alone. Use rubbing alcohol or soap and water to clean the bite area. Don’t crush a live tick. Put it in alcohol or a sealed bag or container or flush it down the toilet. 1 2 3 4