Have you ever been stung by a hornet, wasp, yellow jacket or bee? These are responsible for most of the serious insect sting reactions in the northeastern United States, ranging from mild to life threatening anaphylaxis. And flying hornets and wasps aren't the only insects capable of stinging. Fire ants are also known to cause severe allergic reactions from their stings.
Increased time outdoors in the summer and wearing short sleeved clothing can make you more vulnerable to a potential stinging insect encounter. Insects generally sting in self-defense or to protect their nests or hives though this act of self-defense can be triggered by accidentally stepping on or mowing over a nest in the ground, or unknowingly disturbing a hive around windows and gutters.
When an insect stings, venom is released when the stinger makes contact with a person's skin, causing pain and a potential allergic reaction. Bees, and occasionally yellow jackets, have a barbed stinger that becomes lodged in the skin when the insect stings and rips away from the insect taking the venom sac along with it. While the stinger is lodged in the skin, even after the insect is long gone, venom may continue to be released for several seconds from the detached venom sac. For this reason, it's important to remove the stinger from the skin as quickly as possibly.
Types of Reactions and Symptoms:
Small local reactions: redness and an area of painful swelling (1-2 inches) at the site of the sting that develops within minutes and resolves within hours or a few days. These reactions may be treated with cold compresses.
Large local reactions: exaggerated redness and swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges over 1 to 2 days. The swelling usually peaks at about 48 hours and then gradually resolves over 5 to 10 days. The area of swelling may be up to 6 inches in diameter. In addition to cold compresses, treatment may require antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or even prescription steroid medication such as prednisone.
Generalized allergic reactions (anaphylaxis): this most severe type of reaction is a medical emergency and responds best to the prompt administration of epinephrine, such as EpiPen or Auvi-Q, by injection.
Reactions can vary in severity from mild to life threatening anaphylaxis.
Symptoms may include:
- shortness of breath
- stomach symptoms
- decrease of blood pressure resulting in loss of consciousness
Any person who has experienced an allergic reaction following a hornet, wasp, yellow jacket or bee sting should be evaluated and treated since these reactions can be life threatening. Board-Certified Allergy and Immunology Specialist will discuss insect avoidance strategies, and maintenance of injectable epinephrine as well as potential treatment options such as desensitization.
Stinging insect venom desensitization, or venom immunotherapy, is highly effective in preventing severe allergic reactions. Treating this allergy can lead to significantly improved quality of life, and decreased anxiety when outdoors for you or your child!
Spending time outdoors during the warmer months of the year is a great joy however, the stinging insects can make it worrisome for some people. Don't delay making an appointment with an Allergy & Immunology Specialist at Advanced Specialty Care to discuss your concerns and to develop a plan of action for managing your allergies.
At Advanced Specialty Care, our board certified Allergists and Asthma specialists can provide testing and treatment for seasonal, food, pet, insect allergies and more, as well as asthma. We offer advanced treatment for peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg and sesame allergies using oral immunotherapy or food allergy desensitization. Allergy and Asthma appointments are available in our Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Ridgefield locations. If you have questions about Food Oral Immunotherapy, allergy testing, allergy treatments or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (203) 830-4700 or simply click here to fill out an appointment request form.
Advanced Specialty Care is a multi-specialty private practice caring for patients in Fairfield County, CT for over 30 years. We are committed to the well-being of our patients. In addition to Allergy & Asthma, we have expertise in Audiology, Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and Skin Care, Ear, Nose & Throat, Head & Neck Surgery and Hand Surgery. Our six, convenient Connecticut offices include, Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Southbury and Stamford.