While bees and wasps are an important part of the Earth’s ecosystem, they also pose a danger to children and adults who are allergic to their venom. You can reduce the risk of severe allergic reactions by knowing what severe symptoms look like and how they can be medically treated and prevented. Keep reading to learn everything you should know about allergic reactions to stings.
Stinging Insects and How Some People React to Them
Fire ants, bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are common stinging insects. They thrive all over the country, and while beneficial to the environment, they also cause allergic reactions in individuals of all ages and walks of life.
Some people have no serious reaction at all to insect stings. While there may be some localized soreness, itching and redness, the symptoms don’t progress to anything severe.
However, for thousands of other individuals, symptoms can be health-compromising and life-threatening. This overblown allergic response to insect stings is called anaphylaxis. It can include the usual redness, swelling and itching but rapidly escalate to:
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
Severity Levels of Insect Stings
Anaphylaxis resulting from bee, hornet and wasp stings kills about 60 individuals annually according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Mostly, it happens to men.
So, if you know that you or a family is prone to severe allergic reactions, you should be prepared in two ways. For one, you should avoid the outdoor areas which harbor insect nests and hives. Second, carry the medications you need to stop a serious reaction.
Most people who know they are prone to anaphylaxis always carry injectable epinephrine (Epi-Pen) with them. Epi-pens halt symptoms very quickly, which can be life-saving while waiting for transportation to hospital for emergency care.
How to Protect Yourself from Serious Allergic Reactions to Stings
If you think you may have insect sting allergies and worry about them causing severe reactions, speak to your primary care physician about a referral to an allergy specialist. At Oak Brook Allergists, our board-certified allergists carefully assess symptoms and use skin prick or blood testing to determine if someone is allergic to insect venom.
While avoiding high risk insect areas and other simple habits reduce the risk of being stung, this may not be enough protection. It’s best to protect yourself with immunotherapy, or allergy shots, if your allergy tests show you have a serious allergy to insect stings.
Allergy shots introduce a tiny amount of venom under the skin to desensitize your body to the toxins contained in the venom. This process is repeated over time so that you can tolerate more toxin with a less severe allergic reaction. With this protection, you may avoid serious reactions altogether or at least lessen your symptoms to a manageable level.
Stinging Insect Allergy Evaluation and Treatment Options
At Oak Brook Allergists, our professional team takes all allergies seriously. We provide the latest in testing and develop treatment plans for patients of all ages. We make it our goal to help you live well with allergies and asthma, regardless of severity.
Call today at (630) 574-0460 to arrange a consultation, or request your visit here. We have four convenient locations in northeast Illinois: Elmhurst, Plainfield, Naperville and Downers Grove. We look forward to seeing you!