Insect stings are very common to Americans. For most people this means pain and discomfort usually for a few hours, and redness, swelling, and itching at the site of the sting.
Some people however, are unfortunate and develop allergy to insect stings. Their immune system overreacts to the venom injected by a stinging insect. After the first sting the person’s body produces an allergic substance called Immunoglobulin E or IgE antibody, which reacts with the insect venom. The first reaction is not usually severe, however, with each subsequent sting symptoms can worsen. Worsening reactions at the localized sting site may be an indication that you are developing an allergy, which can become more severe.
A small number of people have severe venom allergies and stings may be life threatening. Severe reactions to stings can involve many body organs and may develop rapidly. Symptoms of severe reaction can include itching, hives over large areas of the body, swelling in the throat or of the tongue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea or diarrhea. Extremely severe cases can result in a rapid fall in blood pressure, which may result in shock and loss of consciousness. This is a medical emergency and may be fatal.
If you have had large localized reactions or symptoms of severe reactions to stinging insects make an appointment to speak with one of our allergists. Venom allergy testing is usually indicated. After testing many questions will be answered and specific emergency treatment options are made available.