Stinging Insect Allergies: Get the Facts

When most people think of allergies, they usually think of hay fever or certain food allergies, like an allergy to tree nuts. But some people walk around not knowing when their allergy could strike because the catalyst is so small.

Stinging insect allergies can be dangerous, so it’s important to be prepared for them. Shailee Madhok, MD, Jan Kazmier, MD, PhD, FAAAAI, and the team at Regional Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Center apply their specialization in dealing with allergies to help people diagnose stinging insect allergies and be prepared to treat them at a moment’s notice. At our offices in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia, We also offer immunotherapy to help reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

We can help you identify and treat stinging insect allergies. But most people don’t realize they have an allergy until after their first sting. So let’s look at some things you should know about these allergic reactions.

How to identify a stinging insect allergy

Diagnosing this type of allergy can be tricky because most people will have some type of reaction to an insect sting. Reactions range from a little swelling, itching, and redness at the location of the sting — a normal reaction — to serious allergic reactions. 

To identify a stinging insect allergy, look for:

These are all signs that the person’s immune system is overreacting to the venom from the insect sting. In some cases, the insect sting can send the person into anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. 

Ultimately, if you or someone you know has a reaction to an insect sting that extends beyond the sting area, a stinging insect allergy is likely. 

Treating insect stings

The right treatment for a stinging insect allergy depends on the severity of the allergy. If stings send you into anaphylaxis, for example, you should carry epinephrine (i.e., an EpiPen®) with you. After receiving your epinephrine dose, head to the emergency room for medical care. 

For less severe allergic reactions, the following steps can help:

If your swelling doesn’t subside or worsens, visit our office for the care you need. 

If you have a stinging insect allergy, talk to our team about immunotherapy. This treatment can reduce your risk for a serious allergic reaction. 

Insects to watch out for

Stinging insect allergies can be particularly dangerous because you most likely won’t know you have the allergy until you get stung. To keep yourself safe, steer clear of the following potentially dangerous stinging insects:

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has a tool you can use to learn what these insects look like. 

Don’t let a stinging insect allergy pose a risk to your health. For dedicated allergy care, call our office nearest you today. 

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