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Chance to learn about alpha-gal

Health has a critical role in our lives as individuals, and as a community. Education is an important asset in understanding our health and taking care of ourselves.

When it comes to a little-known condition that is rapidly gaining prevalence in the region, community education can be a necessary component in keeping informed, keeping healthy, and realizing we are not alone.

Centra Southside Community Hospital is providing the space for people to learn about alpha-gal, a tick-borne condition that causes people to become resistant to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal), a oligosaccharide, or molecule present in mammalian meat. This includes beef, deer, pork, dairy or other mammal derivatives.

The meeting about alpha-gal will be held at the hospital Thursday, June 27, at 1 p.m.

Reactions to alpha-gal can include anaphylaxis, trouble breathing, hives, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Most people with alpha-gal are prescribed epinephrine pens. Symptoms vary widely, and no two people experience the condition alike. Some with alpha-gal can eat dairy without a problem, while some develop an anaphylactic reaction.

Doctors in Virginia and North Carolina have made incredible strides in identifying alpha-gal, its symptoms and its impact on those affected.

Centra should be commended for providing opportunities for people to gather information and create a community for those with alpha-gal.

There can be a lot of misconceptions with alpha-gal. It may be difficult to know what foods someone with alpha-gal can eat. Recently-diagnosed people may feel afraid, uncertain of what the condition will mean for their quality of life.

The Herald encourages anyone with alpha-gal to attend the June 27 meeting. It’s an opportunity to learn, to feel less alone, and to make our collective health the top priority.