People with bee sting allergies often worry about spending time outdoors in the summer months, and people who haven’t been stung by bees before may fear they may be allergic without knowing it.
For most people, a bee sting produces temporary pain and irritation at the site of the sting. For others, bee stings cause an allergic reaction that can range from mild to severe. In extreme cases, a bee sting can cause a life-threatening anaphylaxis. .
How common is an allergy to a bee sting?
According to the medical websitemedicalnewstodayApproximately 5-7.5% of people will have a severe allergic reaction to insect stings in their lifetime. In beekeepers, this risk rises to 32%.
Many people who react to insect stings experience a mild to moderate irritant reaction in the form of localized redness and swelling. For a small minority of people, an allergic reaction can be more severe and requires emergency medical treatment and fatal reactions are rare..
Honey bee venom tends to cause the most severe allergic reactions. Bees, wasps, and fire ants often cause systemic allergic reactions that spread throughout the body, including the skin and respiratory tract..
Causes of an allergic reaction from bees
When a bee stings, the bee’s sharp thorn remains in the skin, and this stinger can release venom for up to a minute after the bee stings.
Bee venom contains proteins that affect skin cells and the immune system, resulting in pain and swelling at the site of the sting, even if the person is not allergic to the venom..
For those who are allergic to bee stings, the venom causes a more severe reaction to the immune system. These people may not have an allergic reaction the first time they are stung but may have an allergic reaction to a second bee sting.
If a person is allergic, a bee sting will cause the immune system to produce a type of antibody called immunoglobulin (IgE). It usually protects the body from dangerous substances, such as viruses and parasites.
However, in response to a bite, the body produces IgE immunoglobulin, which then causes inappropriate immune responses, such as hives, swelling and respiratory problems the next time a person is stung.
Symptoms of a bee sting
Symptoms of a bee sting vary depending on how sensitive a person is. A person can have a mild, moderate, or severe reaction shortly after being stung by a bee.
The majority of bee sting symptoms are very mild and do not require medical attention, and are limited to the site of the sting itself, and include::
- sharp and burning pain
- Redness of an area of the skin
- slight swelling
- moderate reaction
In a person who experiences an average reaction to a bee sting, the body has a stronger response to bee venom, called a large localized reaction (LLR). In such cases, symptoms can take more than a week to fully recover.
Symptoms include intense redness around the bite, as well as swelling around the bite, which may gradually increase in size to 10 centimeters (cm) or more in diameter over a 24-48 hour period
severe allergic reaction
In some individuals, a bee sting can cause anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency medical treatment. The following symptoms develop rapidly:
- severe itching of the skin
- pale skin
- Swollen throat or tongue
- breathing difficulties
- stomach ache
- Vomiting and nausea
- weak and fast pulse
Bee sting reaction treatment
Mild to moderate reaction treatment
After a bee sting, remove the sting as soon as possible, taking care to avoid putting pressure on the venom sac. A person may want to use a pair of tweezers to do this, but removing the sting will limit the amount of venom released into the bloodstream..
Use cold compresses, apply steroid ointments, and take antihistamines to help reduce itching and inflammation. Symptoms should subside over a couple of days..
severe reaction treatment
Severe systemic reactions that require an urgent dose of epinephrine or adrenaline, which will help reduce the severity of the allergic reaction. Doctors may also give oxygen and intravenous fluids..
If someone has an epinephrine injection machine (EpiPen) Use it immediately Epinephrine temporarily reverses symptoms of a severe allergic reaction A severely allergic person should carry an epinephrine syringe with them at all times.
Anyone with one or more symptoms of anaphylaxis should get to the emergency room as soon as possible, even if they have self-administered epinephrine, although toxic anaphylaxis is rare and can cause cardiac arrest within 5-10 minutes of the sting..
While waiting for an emergency, the person should lie on their back with their feet elevated. Doing this will help counteract weakness and dizziness by aiding blood flow to the heart.
Precautions for bee sting allergy
Those who are allergic to bee stings can take the following precautions to reduce their risk of being stung outdoors:
- Avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot
- Guaranteed coverage of arms and legs
- Avoid wearing clothes that are brightly colored or printed with flowers
- Avoid wearing strong perfumes
- Check outdoor areas for bees and other flying insects before eating outside
- When eating outdoors, keep it covered and pay attention to foods and drinks that bees can land on
- Keep windows closed while driving
If you touch a bee:
Do not hit the bees as they may sting in defense.
If a bee flies near you, try to move slowly and quietly away.
If a bee lands on you, try to stay calm because it will fly away in a matter of seconds.
If you find a bee or wasp nest in your home or garden, contact a pest control expert, and never attempt to remove the nest yourself.