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An insect sting allergy is when the venom in a bee, wasp, or other insect stinger causes an allergic reaction of mild, moderate, or severe seriousness. The most severe cases of insect sting allergy need immediate medical treatment, or the sting can be fatal. This kind of severe reaction is called anaphylactic [an-uh-fuh-LAK-tik] shock.
In other cases, even in people without a severe allergy, being stung many times can also cause you to get sick. This can be a medical emergency in people who problems with their heart or lungs.
If you have bee sting symptoms that aren’t going away after a few days, you should talk to a doctor.
Bees aren’t normally aggressive, and usually only sting you when they feel like they need to protect themselves. You can prevent bee stings by exercising caution around areas that have a high number of bees or wasps in them. Don’t make any sudden, jerky movements, and wear shoes when you’re outside.
The symptoms of an insect sting allergy depend on how severe your reaction to the sting is. Symptoms range from mild to moderate to severe.
Mild symptoms, which are the most common, include:
Moderate symptoms may include:
Generally, moderate reactions get better over a week. Having a moderate reaction doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have a more serious reaction next time a bee stings you. If your reactions keep getting worse every time you're stung, talk to a doctor.
Severe allergic reactions, also called anaphylaxis [an-uh-fuh-LAK-sis] can be fatal. Symptoms of a severe reaction can include:
Your chance to have another severe reaction goes up after you get it the first time.
Bee stings can typically be treated with home remedies. If you have a severe allergic reaction, you’ll need to get to a doctor quickly. After a severe reaction, you should ask your doctor about being referred to an allergist. If the reaction was due to a bee, was or hornet sting, skin or blood testing can be done. If the testing is positive, an allergist may recommend venom immunotherapy which can prevent against reactions from future stings.
Also seek medical attention if you have been attacked by a swarm of bees and stung multiple times, or if the symptoms of a bee sting don’t go away in a few days.
Insect sting allergies are diagnosed after a sting occurs, and the symptoms of a mild, moderate, or severe reaction occur.
If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a sting before, you’re more likely to have one the next time you’re stung, so allergy testing is important to diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.
Treatment methods vary depending on the severity of allergic reaction.
Mild and moderate treatment at home should follow these steps:
For severe allergic reactions:
The best way to prevent an insect sting allergy is to prevent insect stings. Some ways to keep safe include: