In the United States, 3% of adults have had a severe, life threatening reaction to stinging insects. This is a treatable condition.
What are Stinging Insect Allergies?
Stinging insects inject a venom that can be very allergenic. To develop an allergy to stinging insects, a patient must have been stung in the past. Stinging insects include honeybees, wasps, yellow jackets, yellow hornets, and white faced hornets. When they sting, they inject a chemical that can cause a reaction. Typically the reaction is swelling or redness at the site of the sting. This is called a local reaction. An allergy is when there is spreading of the reaction away from the sting site, spanning multiple joints, hives all over the body, swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or loss of consciousness. The reaction can be life threatening.
How do I know I have a stinging insect allergy?
If you have have had symptoms after being stung that included hives, large reaction spreading over two joints, feeling unwell, dizziness, swelling, or difficulty breathing then you may have an allergy to stinging insects.
Why I should see an allergist for stinging insect allergy?
If you have had a reaction after being stung, an allergist can help determine your risk of a life threatening reaction, create an action plan in case you are stung, and advise allergy shots to prevent life threatening reactions from every occuring.
Common ways to avoid being stung
Those who are allergic to bee stings can take the following precautions to reduce their risk of being stung when outdoors:
avoiding walking in sandals or bare feet especially on beaches
ensuring arms and legs are covered
avoiding wearing brightly colored clothing
avoiding wearing strong perfumes
checking outdoor areas for bees and other flying insects before eating
staying away from garbage bins, fruit trays, and punch bowls when at outdoor parties
keeping windows closed when driving