An allergic reaction to stinging insects that fly (hornets, honeybees, wasps and yellow jackets) are quite common. Most individuals who are stung by these insects develop a reaction at the sting site that is accompanied by swelling, pain, itchiness and redness. In some individuals, they experience larger areas of swelling that can last up to a week. In rare circumstances, some end up with a severe reaction called as anaphylaxis. Take note that some can experience anaphylaxis after a bee sting.
It is important to note that death has been recorded due to venom allergy, although there are likely other cases of death from insect stings that are attributed to other causes. Most of the deaths occurred among those without a known history of venom allergy.
Indications of anaphylaxis
After a bee sting, the individual can experience any or all of the following symptoms usually within minutes or few hours after.
- Hives or swelling that spreads from the sting site
- Runny nose, postnasal drip or sneezing episodes
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Swollen lips, tongue or throat
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing or coughing
- Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Rapid heart rate, lightheadedness or a drop in the blood pressure
- Feeling of panic
- Metallic taste in the mouth
Insects that cause venom allergy
Aside from a bee sting, the stings from other insects can also trigger allergies.
- Hornets build nests in shrubs and trees. These insects might be aggressive even with mild disruption of the nest such as trimming a tree or mowing the lawn nearby.
- Yellow jackets build mounds in the ground. These insects are aggressive and common at picnics or near trash cans. Occasionally, a sting from a yellow jacket can lead to skin infection since these insects can carry bacteria.
- Wasps build honeycomb nests in trees, under the eaves of houses, shrubs or under patio furniture. These insects are less aggressive and feed mostly on flower nectar and other insects.
How to avoid bee stings
It is important to bear in mind that the ideal way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid being stung. There are a number of considerations to bear in mind.
- Do not wear brightly-colored clothing or those that have flowery prints. Avoid using perfume or other scents since these can attract insects.
- Hire the services of a professional exterminator to deal with any nests in the immediate area. In addition, periodic surveillance for further infestation must be performed.
- It is advised to wear shoes when walking outside, especially on grass.
- Observe caution when working in the yard, particularly around shrubs, bushes, tress and even trash cans.
- Always use pants, long-sleeved shirts, closed-toe shoes, gloves and socks while working outside in the garden or yard.
- Always inspect food and beverages (open cans of soda or drinks with straws) before consuming particularly at picnics or pools.
- You can keep an insecticide that has been approved for use on stinging insects. This should be available in case a nest is nearby.