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Insect Sting Allergy | AllergiesInfo

the bee stings the person in the finger.
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What is an insect sting allergy?

       Insect sting has worked as an excellent model for the allergic process over the past century. It is estimated that about 90 to 100 people die in United State each year due to insect sting. Insect sting causes a minor reaction in most people. This may include some swelling, redness, or itching at the site of the sting. These minor symptoms of Insect Sting Allergy normally go within hours. Insect sting can cause a severe reaction to some people or even death.

What is an allergic reaction?

       Your immune system replies to unknown substances with cells that can detect the specific attacker.  Antibodies are one of the components of this system. These antibodies allow the immune system to recognize unknown substances, and play an important role in getting rid of them. One of the types of these antibodies is known as immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is associated with the growth of allergic reactions.
         If you have an insect sting allergy, your body produces antibodies (IgE) after the first sting. If stung again by the same kind of insect, the venom of the insect reacts with the antibody (IgE) and triggers an allergic reaction.

What are common symptoms?

        The reaction to an insect sting allergy varies from person to person. The symptoms of insect sting allergy can include:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Minor Swelling
  • Pain on the affected area

More severe symptoms include:

  • Hives
  • Flushed Skin
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Faintness
  • Difficult Breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Cramps

The most serious insect sting allergic reaction is called Anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction), which can be fatal.  Treatment is essential and often emergency help is needed. If you experience any of the symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.

Swollen hand. Allergic reaction to insect sting.

Which insects cause allergic reactions?

        There are three families of insects that cause the allergy. These are:

  • Bees (Apidae): sweat bees, bumblebees (occasionally), honey bees
  • Ants (Formicidae): harvester ant, a fire ant (commonly cause anaphylaxis)
  • Vespids (Vespidae): hornets, wasps, yellow jackets

Bites from the following insects may cause anaphylaxis. It happens very rarely. These insects are:

  • Bed bugs
  • Kissing bugs
  • Mosquitoes
  • Deer flies         

How is an insect sting allergy diagnosed?             

        After discussing your medical history, your allergist may recommend a skin test to make a proper diagnosis. The most common insect sting allergy that your doctor will test for are bees, hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps.
         Your allergist should perform a skin prick test. In a skin prick test, a small amount of the allergen is pricks on the back or arm to trigger a reaction. This test takes about 15 to 20 minutes to proceed. Your allergist may recommend a blood test for further testing.

Treatment of Insect sting allergy

        Allergy specialists (Allergist) and immunologists are physicians specialized in diagnosing allergies and prescribing allergy injection therapy for insect sting allergy. If your test results come back positive, the allergist can make suggestions about your treatment. The treatment depends on the specific symptoms and medical history. Staying away from the insects you are allergic is the best way to avoid an allergic reaction.
        Venom immunotherapy or allergy shots, can help stronger your tolerance to allergy and decrease your chances of a life-threatening reaction (anaphylaxis) in the future.

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