What is Pork Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Do you have pork allergy? Clemens von Pirquet was the first to describe allergies as a exaggerated reaction of the immune system in response to exposure to foreign proteins in 1906. Allergies are the sixth largest cause of chronic diseases in the United States according to Asthma and Allergic Foundation of America (2002). Allergies are caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to substances, situations, or physical states that is harmless to most people. Our immune system produces antibody immunoglobulin when encountering an allergen which are the external substances that provoke allergies.

The antibody attempt to destroy the allergen and protect itself. But this process let the other cells signals to release certain chemical called histamines which can cause an unwanted response to our body if large amount of it are released. Pork allergy can be mild, severe, or in some cases it can be fatal. While more common in children, allergies can affect people at any age. Common allergens that may lead sometimes to severe reactions are medication specifically antibiotics, penicillin or other drugs like aspirin and anesthetics, substances, foods particularly peanuts and sea foods and insect stings. These can be swallowed, inhaled, injected, come into contact with skin, airways or eyes. Most of the people have allergies.

However, pork allergy is quite uncommon. As allergies to meat are very rare, it is more common that the chemicals and preservatives specifically the 65-kDa protein found in the meat are the ones that cause the allergic reactions such as abdominal symptoms, sneezing, rashes, and breathing problems. Pork allergy can develop any time in life. Scientists until now have no understanding why some people are allergic to certain foods and can offer no cure of it. Increasing population is considered to be one of the reasons, however, there are theories that more germ-free atmosphere could be responsible for the overreaction of the body’s immune system to harmless foreign protein. Let us discuss pork allergy.

Causes of Pork Allergy

Some of the causes of pork allergy are:

  • The chemical used for processing the meat or the meat itself can cause pork allergy.
  • Chemicals used as preservatives in meat.
  • Stabilizer such as papain(used for meat tenderizer) and casein (used as a stabilizer).

Signs and Symptoms of Pork Allergy

Signs and Symptoms of Pork Allergy

  • Signs and symptoms may vary from person to person and depend on how severe the pork allergy is and how much pork was consumed or come in to contact with.
  • Severe anaphylactic reaction as a symptom of pork allergy. A severe potentially deadly allergic reactions which include drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, rapid or weak pulse, swelling of throat and blockage of airways that may lead you to severe shortness of breathing. If this happens someone around you or exactly to you, seek an emergency call .
  • Abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating are also symptoms of pork allergy.
  • Headaches.
  • Rhinitis also called runny or stuffy nose.
  • Cough.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Hives or skin rashes.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

Tests to Diagnose Pork Allergy

See an allergist if you suspect that you have pork allergy. The allergist will usually conduct a blood test or perform a skin test that indicates whether food-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies are present in your body.

  • Skin test also known as puncture or scratch test for diagnosing pork allergy provides a result for about 20 minutes. The skin on your arm or back pricked with a sterile small probe that contains a small amount of an allergen. If a wheal resembling the bump like a mosquito bite, redness, and swelling develops at the site, it is considered positive.
  • Blood test for pork allergy also known as radioallergosorbent test (RAST) measure the amount of IgE antibody to the specific food being tested. It takes about 1 to 2 weeks to know the result.
  • Patch testing used to determine if a specific substance causes inflammation reaction to the skin. Adhesive patches treated with some various common allergic chemicals are applied to the back.

Treatment for Pork Allergy

There is no cure for pork allergy, but effective treatment can reduce symptoms that may improve the quality of your life. These are the treatments to prevent an allergy attack caused by pork allergy:

  • Not having any contact with the allergen is a good way to manage pork allergy.
  • Use of antihistamine to maintain a check on the secreted histamine.
  • Epinephrine is used in case anaphylactic reaction tends to occur.
  • Use of bronchodilators when the shortness of breathing and wheezing occur.
  • Inhale beta agonist as well as corticosteroids.
  • Desensitization to get used to the allergens.
  • Hospitalization in case of occurrence of anaphylactic reactions because of pork allergy.
  • Bromelain, Quercitin, Vitamin A, Eucalyptus, L- Carnitine, and Iron can be taken to reduce the sensitivity caused by pork allergy. But take note, you must seek an advice to your physician first before taking any medicine.
  • Immunotherapy is an exposure of allergen to some pork allergy patients.
  • Pork allergy shots involve in giving injections of allergens in an increasing dose over time.
  • Shots and Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) are given to patients of pork allergy with a small dose of allergens under the tongue.

Prevention of Pork Allergy

Below are some pork allergy preventions:

  • Know about cross-contamination. It happens when a food you can normally eat comes into contact with a food you are allergy to and in this case it is pork.
  • Selection of products for a meal which involves the obligation to read the composition of the product given on the labels.
  • Beware of foods made with lard or gelatin to prevent pork allergy. Pork lard is occasionally used in baking and pork gelatin is common. Foods such as marshmallows, candies, ice cream and Jell-O generally contain pork gelatin. Look for foods that contain kosher or halal gelatin or that are vegan-friendly. Many vaccines, particularly flu vaccines, contain pork gelatin.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace to let others know that you have a pork allergy in case you have a reaction and you are unable to communicate.
  • Keeping a diary is another way if you want to figure out which allergens might worsen your symptoms, write down all your activities and what you eat to help pinpoint triggers.
  • Be extra careful when you eat outside. Sometimes the kitchen staffs may not always know the ingredients in menu.

Risk Factors for Pork Allergy

Here are the risk factors of allergy.

  • Age is always a risk factor for allergies including pork allergy. Most common in children especially infants and toddlers.
  • Family medical history if a parent or both parents are diagnosed with pork allergy, the children are most likely to have the same allergy.
  • History of allergies have a higher risk of developing pork allergy as well as people who have an allergy to one food will most likely to have it.

Complications of Pork Allergy

People with pork allergy are also at risk of developing complications including the list below:

  • Asthma can be a complication of pork allergy. It is a respiratory illness that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways that leads to wheezingchest tightness and difficulty of breathing.
  • Another complication is eczema which is an inflammatory disease of the human skin described by itching, redness, and oozing vesicular lesions that grow as scaly, hardened, or crusted.
  • Nasal polyps is also seen in pork allergy which are growths on the lining of the nose or sinuses.
  • Migraine.

Prognosis/Outlook for Pork Allergy

The outlook or prognosis for non hereditary pork allergy is excellent. Generally, most infants and young children become more clinically tolerant of their food hypersensitivities. In general population-based studies, shows that about 20% of infants and young children experience resolution of their pork allergy by the time they reach school age and continue to lose their pork allergy into adolescent years.

Home Remedies for Pork Allergy

At home, you can cut down lots of pork allergy symptoms by taking some of these remedies.

  • Taking herbal or other supplementary supplements may reduce pork allergy symptoms for some people like herbs. But there is insufficient scientific proof to support this claims.
  • Consuming honey few report lesser pork allergy symptoms while having honey made from their region.
  • Performing Saline Nasal Irrigation rinses out sinuses with the saltwater solution to reduced congestion.
  • Use of HEPA or high-efficiency particulate air filter traps airborne irritants & other allergens, which may reduce your signs of pork allergy.

Coping with Pork Allergy

Coping with pork allergy can be challenging and a source of ongoing concern. The opportunity to discuss with the other people who share your concern with a good source of information can be very helpful to them. Some internet sites and other forms of organization offers information and forum for discussing pork allergy. A Lot of people find it useful and helpful to talk to others who are dealing with same challenges. And accept the fact that you cannot change what has happened and enjoy what you can have and there is still plenty of choices out there.


Having pork allergy issues could take away the quality of one’s life. For those with a rare food allergy, like pork, this is far harder, so constant vigilance is the key. Be always prepared and let those around you know of your allergy and what to do if you have a severe reaction. When traveling, be sure you know where the nearest hospital is. The only thing a person with pork allergy can do is to try their best to avoid any contact with the food and be very careful with everything they consume. They should always read labels carefully and watch for chances of cross contamination. Being aware and prepared could be the difference between life and death. Sadly, there is no cure for pork allergy. Sometimes it is just too hard to explain to others as they cannot understand the change in lifestyle as it is so unusual. Just be positive because there are lots of delicious food you can enjoy with.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 5, 2022

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