Insect Sting Allergies - Symptoms

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Did you have an allergic reaction to an insect sting? What were your signs and symptoms?

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What types of insect sting reactions occur?

Nonallergic reactions

Most insect-sting reactions are not allergic and result in local pain, itching, swelling, and redness at the site of the sting. Some extension of the swelling is expected. Local treatment is usually all that is needed for this type of reaction. Disinfect the area, keep it clean, and apply ice. Topical corticosteroid creams are sometimes used to decrease inflammation, and antihistamines can help control itching.

Large local reactions may involve increased swelling (that lasts for 48 hours up to one week) that may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Large local reactions occur in about 10% of insect stings and are not allergic in origin. Occasionally, the site of an insect sting will become infected, and antibiotics are needed.

Allergic reactions

Systemic (body-wide) reactions are allergic responses and occur in people who have developed antibodies against the insect venom from a prior exposure. It is estimated that between 0.3%-3% of stings trigger a systemic allergic reaction.

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.

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Comment from: Mary, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 08

Got stung by some kind of bee or wasp om the back of my neck 7 days ago don't think I got the stinger out I have had some swelling and redness and severe pain in the neck and some. Burning. A lot of stiffness. Doctor gave me some antibiotics for a bacterial infection not helping.

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Comment from: Sharon, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

I was stung by a yellow jacket on my middle finger 6 days ago. Within just a few minutes, I was sweating, vomiting and was so weak it was hard to stand. I took a Benadryl, but threw that up too. This is the second time within a year this has happened to me. The first time I ended up in the emergency room.

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