Insect Sting Allergies - Treatment

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What kinds of treatment were used to treat your allergic reaction to an insect sting?

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How is a severe allergic reaction immediately treated?

Honeybee stingers are barbed stingers that are left behind in the person's skin after the initial sting. If the stinger is removed by pinching the stinger, more venom is actually injected into the skin. It is better to remove the stinger by gently lifting the stinger using a fingernail or knife edge to flick the stinger out of the skin. Other stinging insects do not leave stingers behind and this technique does not apply.

An allergic reaction is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline). Several self-injectable devices are available by prescription, including Epi-Pen, Auvi-Q, and others. These devices are filled with the epinephrine to be injected in to the subcutaneous tissue or muscle, preferably into the front of the thigh. These self-injected devices usually contain only one dose and, on occasion, more than one dose is needed. Venom extractors are commercially available, but they have not been demonstrated to have any benefit.

If a serious sting reaction occurs, always seek medical attention, even if epinephrine is used and all seems stable. The allergic reaction can subsequently progress and become more serious after epinephrine has worn off. Sometimes epinephrine is not enough and intravenous fluids or other treatment is needed. If you are known to be seriously allergic to insects, you must remember to carry the epinephrine at all times especially when out of reach of medical care (such as in the woods or even on an airplane). If epinephrine is not available when you are stung, contact a doctor as soon as possible. In addition to epinephrine, an oral dose of antihistamine (like Benadryl) can reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Antihistamines take effect in about one hour. Ultimately, however, it is crucial to attempt to avoid the sting.

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Comment from: insect hater, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 29

I was stung last weekend while working in my garden. Within 15 minutes the area swelled to a diameter of 12 inches. After that I had hives on the back of my head and neck, ears, and under armms, followed by nausea and itchy red eyes. I took benedryl and aleve, jumped into a cool shower and used ice packs on the bite are. The hives went away within 2 hrs, but the localized swelling and pain stayed for 48 hrs. I continued using benadryl and aleve for that time period.

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Comment from: Chris5596, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: December 13

I am a Florida resident for 3 plus years. I have been stung by fire ants about 4 times over the last couple of years and each time the after effects got worse. The last time so bad (anaphylaxis) with symptoms appearing within 2 minutes of the bite, difficulty breathing, cold sweat, shaking, vomiting and fever, the whole thing lasted about 4 hours. I went to the doctor who told me to buy an EpiPen and carry it at all times. He then referred me to a local allergy treatment center. I have just started immunotherapy treatment consisting of regular injections the first of which was about 3 days ago with no after effects. The 2nd one today however caused a symptom similar to what follows a bite - mainly shortness of breath, luckily I was still at the clinic and they checked blood pressure and so on, it finally subsided after about 15 to 20 minutes. A blood sample has been taken and I am awaiting the results. This whole thing with the allergy to insect stings has changed my life as I never had to bother about it before moving to Florida.

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