Venom Hypersensitivity

(Bee Sting Allergy)

Most people have been stung by a wasp or bee at one time or another and develop localized redness, pain, itching and swelling. Some develop large local reactions however, and most worrisome is the group who develop generalized reactions including hives, throat closing and difficulty breathing. If not treated in time, these anaphylactic reactions potentially can be fatal, and persons who experience these symptoms should receive immediate emergency medical treatment.

 

To prevent future stings persons should avoid wearing brightly colored clothing and perfumes when outdoors, and avoid walking barefoot. Foods, particularly sugary drinks, should be kept covered when outdoors since their smell is a strong attractant for bees. Since accidental stings still occur however, it is recommended that persons with a history of a severe allergic reaction keep an epinephrine auto-injector available at all times during the warmer months. Furthermore it is recommended that they undergo a full allergy evaluation to determine the types of stinging insects to which they are allergic and to discuss the possibility of allergy shots. Fortunately venom immunotherapy is known to be 97% effective in preventing future severe allergic reactions, and can be accomplished with relatively infrequent dosing after an initial weekly buildup period is completed.

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