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- Stinging insect allergy facts
- What are stinging insects?
- What types of insect sting reactions occur?
- What are signs and symptoms of insect sting allergies?
- Who is at risk for insect sting allergies?
- What tests do doctors use to diagnose an insect sting allergy?
- What specialists treat insect sting allergies?
- What is the treatment for a severe allergic reaction?
- Are there home remedies for insect sting allergies?
- How can I avoid insect stings?
- What can I do about becoming immune to insect allergy?
- What is the prognosis for an insect sting allergy?
What are signs and symptoms of insect sting allergies?
The allergic reaction to an insect sting varies from person to person. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, hives, flushing of the skin, tingling or itching inside the mouth, and nausea or vomiting. The most serious allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. Difficulty breathing, swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of the tongue, dizziness, and fainting are signs of a severe allergic reaction. These types of reactions usually occur within minutes of the sting but have been known to be delayed for up to 24 hours. Prompt treatment is essential, and emergency help is often needed.
Who is at risk for insect sting allergies?
Over 2 million Americans are allergic to stinging insects. The degree of allergy varies widely. Most people are not allergic to insect stings, and most insect stings result in only local itching and swelling. Many, however, will have severe allergic reactions. Severe allergic reactions to insect stings are responsible for at least 50 deaths each year in the U.S.
If you are known to be allergic to insect stings, then the next sting is more likely to be similar or worse than the previous sting. Since most stings occur in the summer and fall, you are at greatest risk during these months. Males under the age of 20 are the most common victims of serious insect-sting allergic reactions, but this may reflect a greater exposure to insects of males, rather than a true predisposition.