Getting stung by a bee or other stinging insect is no fun. Most symptoms are minor, such as pain and burning at the injection site and slight swelling of the tissue surrounding the area. Some people, however, react far more strongly to the venom. Here is what you need to know if you are stung.
How Should an Insect Sting Be Treated? If you can see a visible stinger, such as those left behind by a bee, scrape it off immediately. Don't waste time finding a tweezers; more venom will be injected and it is releasing pheromones to let others know you are a threat. Wasps and hornets don't leave a stinger behind. Wash the area with soap and water. If it is still irritating, you can put a poultice of baking soda mixed with water or even honey over the injection site. You could also take a Benadryl to prevent any mild allergic reactions, but for most people, removing the stinger and washing the area suffices.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Bad Reaction?
The most common sign that things are going terribly wrong is anaphylaxis. This causes a tightening in the throat, a swelling tongue, difficulty breathing, hives, intense itching, nausea, and dizziness. The venom can also cause a rapid drop in blood pressure, leading to fainting. Anaphylaxis can be deadly, so it's important to seek medical treatment immediately if you are stung and have any of these symptoms. After the initial crisis is addressed, anyone who has had a severe reaction must see an allergist so they can learn what they need to do to keep themselves safe in the future.
Keep in mind that an allergy can develop suddenly, as well. If you have ever been stung and had more than minor symptoms, there is a good chance you could have more severe symptoms in the future. Meeting with an allergist or immunologist would be a good idea. If after testing they find you do indeed show a sensitivity to bee venom, they will prescribe you an epi-pen, which delivers a dose of epinephrine either subcutaneously (under the skin) or intramuscularly (into the muscle, usually the thigh.)
What Can Be Done for Those With Severe Allergies?
Those who have had a severe allergic reaction previously could have a life-threatening reaction if they were stung again. These patients should start venom immunotherapy. This is a long-term program that consists of receiving small but increasing doses of venom, which helps to build up a resistance. Patients must receive injections at least once a week for six months, and then once a month for the next six months, followed by one injection every 6-8 weeks for several years thereafter. This treatment is time-consuming and costly, but for those who a sting can be deadly, it is well worth it.
To learn more, visit resources like http://www.oakbrookallergists.com.