Dr. Roy

BEE STING ALLERGY

Honey bee stings or other flying stinging insect allergies are rising and can pose serious problems for those who become allergic to them. Both children and adults can be affected by these reactions.

Symptoms of Insect stings

Bee stings can produce different reactions, ranging from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction. Having one type of reaction doesn’t mean you’ll always have the same reaction every time you’re stung or that the next reaction will necessarily be more severe.

Mild reaction

Most of the time, bee sting symptoms are minor and include:

  • Instant, sharp burning pain at the sting site
  • A red welt at the sting area
  • Slight swelling around the sting area

In most people, the swelling and pain go away within a few hours with first aid care.

Moderate reaction

Some people who get stung by a bee or other insect have a bit stronger reaction, with signs and symptoms such as:

  • Extreme redness
  • Swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges over the next day or two
  • Moderate reactions tend to resolve over five to 10 days.

Having a moderate reaction doesn’t mean you’ll have a severe allergic reaction the next time you’re stung. But some people develop similar moderate reactions each time they’re stung. If this happens to you, talk to your Allergy specialist about treatment and prevention, especially if the reaction becomes more severe each time.

Severe allergic reaction

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to bee stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness

People who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 25% to 65% chance of anaphylaxis the next time they’re stung.

Consult an Allergy Immunology superspecialist about testing to confirm the allergy and then about prevention measures such as immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) to avoid a similar reaction in case you get stung again.

An emergency action plan will also be provided to you during your visit with us in case of any future accidental stings.