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Learning About Alpha-Gal Syndrome: A Physician Assistant's Journey

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Introduction:

In healthcare, some conditions are not widely known, and healthcare providers often encounter challenges in diagnosis and treatment. One such condition is Alpha-gal Syndrome (AGS), an allergy to mammalian-derived products (e.g. food, health products, etc.) transmitted through the Lone Star tick. In a study by the CDC, less than half of surveyed healthcare providers have never heard of AGS or knew how to properly diagnose and treat the condition.

Janei Brockhausen

Janei Brockhausen, a devoted Physician Assistant (PA-C) in Colorado Springs, holds a master's degree in Emergency Medicine and Family Practice from A.T. Still University, a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, and completed an MD residency in Family Practice. As a mom to two boys and a proud grandma to 10 grandchildren, she embraces her family role alongside her medical career. This year, she faced a personal challenge with an AGS diagnosis but turned it into an opportunity to advocate for others. Janei reached out to VeganMed for animal-free medications for her AGS patients. Her dedication goes beyond the clinic, and we're excited to share her journey addressing the unique challenges of working with alpha-gal patients.

Discovering Alpha-gal:


Janei's introduction to Alpha-gal Syndrome came through a patient about a year ago in 2022. Despite her existing knowledge of common allergies, including peanut allergies and gluten sensitivities, alpha-gal was a new discovery for her. This highlights the lesser-known nature of alpha-gal and the need for increased awareness in the medical community.


Navigating Medication Challenges:


One of the primary challenges Janei faces is the complexity of medication management for alpha-gal patients. Certain medications with animal-derived ingredients, such as Heparin and Coumadin, pose risks for these individuals, and Janei often encounters difficulties when seeking suitable alternatives. The reluctance of local pharmacies to assist in this process emphasizes the need for broader education and awareness.


A Glimpse into Patient Stories:


Janei shares a poignant patient story, underlining the diverse manifestations of alpha-gal syndrome. One patient, diagnosed with primarily gastrointestinal symptoms, was not given an Epi-Pen. That patient later experienced a severe drop in blood pressure during an episode where the paramedics were called. She also tells us the emotional toll on children and teenagers dealing with this condition is particularly challenging, as they grapple with dietary restrictions and the desire to fit in. Other patients have shared similar challenges while managing their alpha-gal allergy symptoms.


The Joys of the Job:


Despite the challenges, Janei expresses her love for her patients and the satisfaction derived from helping them navigate the intricacies of AGS. Her dedication to providing excellent care shines through, illustrating the resilience and compassion required in the face of a relatively unknown condition.


Advice for Patients and Healthcare Providers:


Janei's valuable advice extends to both patients and healthcare providers. For patients, she emphasizes the fluctuating nature of alpha-gal reactions, encouraging vigilance and awareness. Healthcare providers, she suggests, need to prioritize education, active communication, and a willingness to delve into researching and understanding alpha-gal syndrome.


Evolving Landscape of Medicine:


In the closing remarks, Janei reflects on the changes in medicine over the last 5-7 years. The shift towards concierge medicine has impacted accessibility, making it challenging for patients to find good healthcare providers. This raises concerns about the increasing demand for quality healthcare in a rapidly evolving medical landscape.


Conclusion:


Janei Brockhausen's story sheds light on the complexities of working with alpha-gal syndrome patients. Her experiences underscore the need for increased awareness, education, and support for both patients and healthcare providers dealing with this allergy. As medicine continues to evolve, it is crucial to recognize and address the unique challenges presented by conditions like alpha-gal syndrome, ensuring comprehensive and compassionate care for those affected. Thank you again Janei for your dedication to serving your community and your willingness to share your story as a healthcare professional adapting and overcoming new obstacles.


Our team at VeganMed is always happy to help healthcare professionals and patients find animal-free medications! For more information, please contact our medical information department!



 

Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product. The information provided in this post is accurate and up to date as of the date it was written. However, please note that circumstances and facts may change over time, and new information may become available that could alter the accuracy or relevance of the content. We encourage readers to verify and cross-reference any information provided here with trusted sources or consult relevant professionals for the most current and accurate updates.


 

Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?

Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!


As a reminder, please comment on our FDA Citizen Petition, requesting clear labeling of animal-derived ingredients in medications. Together, we can make a difference.


If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!

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