In most individuals, an insect sting means a little pain and discomfort. But some people may have trouble breathing, have hives all over their body or “swell” after being stung. These people may be allergic to insect stings. This means that their immune system overreacts to the insect's venom.
Most allergic insect sting reactions are caused by five kinds of insects:
- Yellow jackets
- Paper wasps
- Fire ants
For people who are very allergic to an insect's venom, a sting may cause a dangerous allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of anaphylaxis include:
- Itching and hives over a large part of the body
- Swollen throat or tongue
- Trouble breathing
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea or upset stomach
If you are stung by an insect and experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
When necessary, Dr. Bathija tests for stinging allergies from the above insects. If you are found to have an allergy to insect stings, you can reduce your risk of having an allergic reaction by staying indoors during insect season and always carrying an Epipen. You may also be a candidate for allergy shots (immunotherapy), which can protect you the next time you are stung by an insect.