Insect Stings

Did you know over 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings? 40-150 people die each year from allergic reactions to stings. It is important to know the difference between a normal reaction to a sting and a true allergic reaction. A normal reaction will result in pain, redness and swelling at the sting site. A large local reaction may involve increased swelling beyond the sting site. Disinfecting the site and applying ice will be sufficient most of the time while some large reactions may require antihistamines and/or steroids.

A true allergic reaction or “anaphylaxis” to a flying stinging insect or fire ants may involve one or more of these symptoms requiring immediate medical attention in an emergency department:

  • Hives, itching, and swelling in areas other than the sting site.
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing.
  • Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue.
  • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure.
  • Unconsciousness or cardiac arrest.

A board certified allergist/immunologist is able to provide a plan of care including initial evaluation and testing and treatment for prevention of future allergic reactions.


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