Insect sting allergies: what’s the buzz about?

Insect sting allergies

Insect sting allergies: what’s the buzz about?

Whether it’s a wasp, hornet, or bee, or another pollinator a lot of us know what getting stung is like. But while normal reactions to getting stung are common, for a few people it makes for an extremely dangerous situation. 

What happens?

A reaction to getting stung, no matter the severity, happens because an insect injects their venom into you. If you’re allergic, then your body will overreact to it. After the first sting, your body produces antibodies called immunoglobulin. If you’re stung again by the same type of insect, the venom interacts with the antibodies and triggers the release of substances that cause a reaction.

While nearly everyone will have a localised reaction to getting stung, 0.4-0.8% of children and 3% of adults could have a potentially life-threatening reaction.

Different types of reaction

After getting stung by an insect there are different levels of reaction that can happen. Depending on whether you’re allergic or not, you might have a:

Normal reaction: This is where you’ll get pain, swelling, and redness around the area where you’ve been stung. Sometimes the reaction can be larger and extend to more than just the immediate area. Either way, you can treat these yourself with antiseptic, antihistamines, and hydrocortisone creams.

Allergic reaction: For an allergic reaction you’ll see more symptoms. You might experience redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area as well as elsewhere on your body. You might also notice more severe symptoms like a rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, swollen throat or tongue, dizziness, and nausea. If you suspect you’re having an allergic reaction, it’s important you seek medical assistance immediately. You won’t know until it’s too late whether you’re at risk of anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis: This is when an insect sting allergy can be even more severe and dangerous. You will be unable to breathe, experience a quick fall of blood pressure, and may enter shock. In this case, you’ll need epinephrine straight away. If you have prior knowledge of your allergy, you can administer this yourself while waiting for further medical assistance.

How to avoid

Short of never leaving the house, there’s no way to guarantee you won’t be stung. But there are some things you can do while outside to minimise risk. Avoid eating and wearing bright colours or strong perfumes when spending time outside. If a stinging insect is nearby, stay calm and still instead of panicking and running away.

While getting stung is more of an inconvenience to most of us, it can be extremely dangerous for a set few. It’s important to always be cautious with any potential reactions. This way you can notice if anything becomes a cause for concern.

If you want to find out more about insect sting allergies or book an allergy test, give us a call on 02031 433 499.

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