Facts About Insect Sting Allergies - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Facts About Insect Sting Allergies

  • People with insect sting allergies should see an allergist for a three-step treatment approach.
  • Insect stings send more than 500,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms every year, and cause at least 50 known deaths each year.
  • Experts estimate that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings, and many of these individuals are at risk of suffering life-threatening reactions to insect venom.
  • Symptoms of insect sting allergic reaction, called "anaphylaxis," may include hives, itchiness, swelling in areas other than the sting site, difficulty breathing, a sharp drop in blood pressure, hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue, dizziness, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. Reactions such as these require immediate medical attention.
  • Avoidance tactics are the first line of defense to insect stings. People with allergies to insect stings should:

Avoid walking barefoot in the grass, where stinging insects forage.

Avoid drinking from open soft drink cans, which stinging insects are attracted to and will crawl inside.

Keep food covered when eating outdoors.

Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes, hairsprays and deodorants.

Avoid wearing bright colored clothing with flowery patterns.

  • For emergency treatment, an allergist can prescribe and give instructions on how to use a self-administered epinephrine (adrenaline) kit. A person who has had an allergic reaction to insect sting has a 60 percent chance of having another similar or worse reactions if stung again, and should always have an emergency kit.
  • An allergist can also provide a preventive treatment called venom immunotherapy (or venom allergy shots). It works by introducing gradually increasing doses of purified insect venom, and has been shown to be 97 percent effective in preventing future allergic reactions to insect stings.
  • Stinging insects such as bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets, are most active during late-summer and early-autumn when nest populations can exceed 60,000 insects. These insects occur throughout the United States. Another stinging insect, the fire ant, occurs year-round and infects more than 250 million acres in the southern states.

For a free brochure insect sting allergy or for physician referral call 254-753-3646.  Additional information also is available on the ACAAI Web site at www.acaai.org.

FIVE ALLERGY MYTHS THAT CAN STING

MYTH:      Swelling at the site of an insect sting is a sign of an allergic reaction.

FACT:     Swelling, which occurs even in a normal reaction to insect sting, does not necessarily indicate an allergic reaction. Sometimes the swelling will extend beyond the sting site. Allergic reactions are indicated by swelling in areas other than the sting site and involve additional symptoms such as hives and itchiness, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing, dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure, and hoarse voice and swelling of the tongue.

MYTH:      Like seasonal nasal allergies, insect sting allergies are very common and more of a nuisance than they are dangerous.

FACT:     Insect sting allergies are much less common than seasonal nasal allergies but they are far more dangerous, even life-threatening. Approximately 2 million Americans are allergic to the venom produced by stinging insects such as yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and fire ants. Insect stings send more than 500,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms and cause at least 50 known deaths each year.

MYTH:   If you don't suffer a reaction within the first 24 hours after an insect sting, you probably are not allergic.

FACT:       An allergic reaction often occurs immediately, but may appear as much as 24 hours later.

MYTH:     A person can never be immune to insect sting allergies.

FACT:       A person who is allergic to insect sting can gain immunity through a preventive treatment called allergy shots (also known as immunotherapy). The treatment, which has been shown to be 97 percent effective in preventing future allergic reactions to insect stings, works by injecting gradually increasing doses of purified insect venom.

MYTH:     A person who experiences an allergic reaction to an insect sting is not very likely to have a future reaction.

FACT:      Unfortunately, a person suffers an allergic reaction to an insect sting has a 60 percent chance of having another similar or worse reaction if stung again. Those who have had an allergic reaction to insect sting should see an allergist who can prescribe an emergency kit containing self-administered epinephrine (adrenaline) and provide instruction on how to use it.

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