What to do bee sting allergy

Nearly everyone, even people without a bee sting allergy, will experience symptoms of pain, redness, swelling, and itching at the site of the sting.

What to do bee sting allergy

These symptoms are not dangerous and can be treated as outlined under. However, if you were stung on the lips, tongue, inside your mouth or throat, then severe swelling at the sting site could become an emergency.

Symptoms of a more severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis include but are not limited to:

  1. Lightheadedness
  2. Trouble breathing (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath)
  3. Fast heart rate and a sense of fainting (perhaps due to low blood pressure)
  4. Upset stomach and perhaps nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea
  5. Skin rashes or swelling away from the sting site, such as hives, angioedema, itching without a rash, sweating, or flushing

These symptoms, if they're going to happen, generally start within a few minutes of getting stung.

When to Get Assist

If these more severe symptoms are present, get medical attention immediately, such as calling 911 or going directly to the closest emergency room.

While waiting for emergency medical assist, if you own injectable epinephrine that was prescribed to you, use it immediately.

What to do bee sting allergy

Take an oral antihistamine (such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra) only if you are capable to swallow and don't own severe swelling of the tongue, lips, or throat. Choking on medicine could make an already dangerous situation much worse.

Some insect stings, particularly those from yellow jackets, develop into cellulitis (skin infection). If pain, swelling, or redness develops, worsens, or spreads after 2 to 3 days, or if you develop fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting, you should seek medical treatment.


Step 1: Remove the Stinger as Quickly as Possible

Generally, only honeybees leave their stingers after a sting, because of the barbs on the stinger.

Removing the stinger quickly—ideally less than 10 seconds after being stung—is significant because this minimizes how much venom is injected. The method of removing the stinger, such as scraping or pinching, seems to be less significant, contrary to favorite belief. If you spend too much time trying to remove the stinger by gingerly scraping at it, and more than 30 seconds passes, every of the venom has already been injected.


Treating a Bee Sting Allergy

If you are not known to be allergic to bee stings but you were just stung by a bee (or another stinging insect such as a wasp, yellow jacket, or hornet), here are a few simple steps to monitor for an allergic reaction:


Step 3: Treat Expected Side Effects

If your only symptoms are pain, redness, and swelling/itching at the site of the sting, and the bee sting was not on the face, then you're not likely to be experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

Consider taking a single dose of an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec, or Claritin as quickly as possible. This may assist the local reaction and possibly reduce the chance, or lessen the severity, of an allergic reaction occurring later. These medicines are available over-the-counter without a doctor’s prescription—just be certain to carefully follow the instructions on the package.

Continue to closely monitor yourself or the sting victim for signs of an allergic reaction, particularly for the first 30 to 60 minutes after getting stung. Most severe allergic reactions happen within this time period and would be unusual four hours or more after getting stung.

What to do bee sting allergy

If signs of an allergic reaction develop, get medical attention immediately. Localized swelling, redness, and itching at the site of the sting may worsen over numerous hours to days. Treatment of local reactions may include applying ice packs and topical steroid creams to the sting site, as well as taking oral antihistamines and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.

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  • Pucca MB, Cerni FA, Oliveira IS, et al. Bee updated: current knowledge on bee venom and bee envenoming therapy. Front Immunol. 2019;10:2090. Published 2019 Sep 6.

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Additional Reading

Whether you’re working exterior in your garden, having a lunchtime picnic in the park, or taking a hike under blue skies, you’re bound to own an encounter with bees.

And most bees would prefer to get out of your way.

However, some species are more aggressive than others and will go to grand lengths to protect their hive. Even the mild-natured bumblebee will sting if it feels you’re threatening its life or nest.

Stings are painful, but for most people, the discomfort generally fades within a few hours. Unfortunately, even a single bee sting can sometimes cause severe symptoms that may catch you by surprise.

What to do bee sting allergy

Dr. Rahimi, a skilled allergist, and immunologist who is extremely familiar with bee stings and the problems they cause, shares a few insights about bees and how to spot the warning signs of an allergic reaction.

What happens when you’re stung by a bee?

When they feel threatened, bees and other stinging insects use sharp, hollow tubes called stingers to inject venom into your skin. The venom generally causes temporary redness, pain, swelling, and itching at the site.

If you’re allergic to the toxin, however, your reaction is typically much more significant and may become life-threatening, with symptoms such as difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness.

It’s possible to develop an allergy at any time, even when you’ve been stung before and didn’t own a problem.

Interestingly, adults often own more severe reactions to bee stings than children.

Your risk of a serious reaction to bee venom also increases when you’re stung multiple times. Honeybees die after stinging once, but a swarm can deliver significant amounts of venom through multiple stings.

All other bee species, as well as wasps and hornets, can sting repeatedly before flying away.

What to do bee sting allergy

It’s also significant to note that when a bee stings you, along with the venom, it releases chemicals that attract other bees to the area.

Additional Reading

Whether you’re working exterior in your garden, having a lunchtime picnic in the park, or taking a hike under blue skies, you’re bound to own an encounter with bees. And most bees would prefer to get out of your way.

However, some species are more aggressive than others and will go to grand lengths to protect their hive. Even the mild-natured bumblebee will sting if it feels you’re threatening its life or nest.

Stings are painful, but for most people, the discomfort generally fades within a few hours.

Unfortunately, even a single bee sting can sometimes cause severe symptoms that may catch you by surprise.

Dr.

What to do bee sting allergy

Rahimi, a skilled allergist, and immunologist who is extremely familiar with bee stings and the problems they cause, shares a few insights about bees and how to spot the warning signs of an allergic reaction.

What happens when you’re stung by a bee?

When they feel threatened, bees and other stinging insects use sharp, hollow tubes called stingers to inject venom into your skin. The venom generally causes temporary redness, pain, swelling, and itching at the site.

If you’re allergic to the toxin, however, your reaction is typically much more significant and may become life-threatening, with symptoms such as difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness.

It’s possible to develop an allergy at any time, even when you’ve been stung before and didn’t own a problem.

Interestingly, adults often own more severe reactions to bee stings than children.

Your risk of a serious reaction to bee venom also increases when you’re stung multiple times. Honeybees die after stinging once, but a swarm can deliver significant amounts of venom through multiple stings.

All other bee species, as well as wasps and hornets, can sting repeatedly before flying away. It’s also significant to note that when a bee stings you, along with the venom, it releases chemicals that attract other bees to the area.


What about multiple bee stings?

Multiple stings are concerning whether you own an allergy or not since the accumulation of venom can induce a severe reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

Concerning symptoms after multiple stings may include:

  1. Headache
  2. Nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea
  3. A feeling of spinning dizziness (vertigo)
  4. Convulsions
  5. Fainting

If you’ve been stung by one or several honeybees, remove any stingers left behind as soon as possible. These barbed injectors are often attached to intact venom sacs that continue to pump venom even after the bee has died.


When should I see a doctor for a bee sting?

If you’re stung, it’s significant to remain calm and remember that most bee stings cause only a mild response.

Call 911 or seek emergency medical care, however, if you’re experiencing symptoms of a severe reaction, which may include:

  1. Trouble breathing
  2. Hives, itchiness every over, flushed or pale skin
  3. Difficulty swallowing or swelling of the throat and tongue
  4. Dizziness, fainting, loss of consciousness
  5. Nausea, vomiting. or diarrhea
  6. Weak or rapid pulse

One severe reaction increases your risk of experiencing another the next time you’re stung, by about 60 percent. I recommend my patients see me for a visit after having a significant reaction to a bee sting and may propose allergy shots (immunotherapy) to assist you build up a resistance to the venom.

Moderate reactions to bee stings often include extreme redness and significant swelling at the site that worsens over 5-10 days.

A moderate reaction doesn’t always mean you’ll own a severe reaction next time, but I do recommend that my patients come in for an evaluation in this case, which may include allergy testing.

Anyone with a history of severe reaction or known allergy to bee venom should always carry an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen or other). Use the autoinjector as directed, immediately after a sting, and don’t skip the call to 911 so that medical professionals can monitor your health and provide further treatment as necessary.


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