Insect Stings Allergy
Insect sting allergy occurs when your immune system wrongly recognizes an insect sting venom as a possible allergen, resulting in an allergic response.
In Singapore, the most common insect stings come from hornets, yellow jackets, honey bees, and wasps. Normally when an insect sting you, it leaves behind its stingers. These stingers are safely removed through scrapping action as opposed to a pulling motion as it ensures no more venom is squeezed into the affected skin area.
Each person’s immune system will react differently towards an insect sting. Reactions will often range from simple pain-free swelling and redness to very serious life-threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis. It is critical to note that if you have previously experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting, you have between 40 and 60% chance of having a similar or even more severe reaction from subsequent stung.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Insect Sting Allergy?
In most cases, people experience localized pain, swelling as well as redness over the affected body part. During insect sting allergy, your immune system typically overreacts to the insect venom, resulting in potential anaphylactic symptoms that may manifest in multiple body parts. These symptoms include:
- Wheezing and trouble breathing
- Feeling unconscious, a decrease in blood pressure, and dizziness
- Eye, lip, throat, tongue, and facial swelling
- Abdominal cramps
- Large areas of body hives and itching
- Cardiac arrest
- Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
- Coughing and voice hoarseness
What’s more, insect stings can trigger a toxic reaction. This means that your body wrongly perceives the insect venom to be a poison. The symptoms exhibited by your body after a toxic reaction are nearly similar to those of an allergic reaction. However, in extreme cases of toxic reactions, the affected individual may experience fainting spells, seizure, shock, or may even succumb to the reaction.
What Can I Expect From My Doctor During My Insect Sting Allergy Consultation?
During your visitation, your doctor will enquire about your latest encounter with insect stings. You will also need to inform your doctor about the number of stings you have had, the duration of those stings as well as the reactions from the stings. Depending on your situation, your doctor may need to carry out an allergy test using either skin prick test or blood test to help ascertain the specific insect sting allergy.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Insect Stings Allergy?
Before we can talk about any treatment option, it is best to try to avoid any contact with stinging insects if possible.
Anaphylaxis and Treatment:
This can be a life-threatening condition and will need prompt medical attention. It only means that if you experience an anaphylactic reaction, you need to act very fast and seek medical care. An epinephrine injection will help save your life. You will need to stay in the hospital overnight until your condition improves.
Venom Immunotherapy; A long-term treatment:
This a long-lasting insect sting allergy treatment. The procedure is only performed by a highly trained doctor or allergist and involves introducing incremental insect venom doses to the affected person gradually. The theory behind the treatment is that the repeated exposure to the insect venom will eventually minimize your sensitivity towards the venom, ultimately reducing your risk of future insect sting allergy attacks.
Venom immunotherapy is usually offered in the form of allergy shots to help create intolerance and offer nearly 97% protection against any potential future attacks. Venom immunotherapy is specifically helpful to people who are always active outdoors.
Now avoid insect stings with these straightforward and practical tips:
In Singapore, the most common insect stings come from wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and honey bees. Yellowjackets are insects featuring black and yellow markings. They mostly reside in the ground, inside walls, and in woodpiles. Honey bees have fuzzy round bodies with yellow and dark-brown markings. You will find them on buildings, trees, and bushes.
- Never swat any flying insect.
- If possible, avoid bright-colored clothing.
- Do not try to interrupt an insect nest or home. And if there are insects in your home, seek the help of a trained exterminator to eliminate them.
- Do not drink from open beverage cans because stinging insects are usually attracted to them.
- If possible, have standby emergency epinephrine medication with you, especially if you are prone to insect sting allergies.
- Stay quiet and calm and slowly move away from stinging insects.
- When gardening, equip yourself with effective protective gear that covers your hands, toes.
- Avoid sweet-smelling colognes, sprays, deodorants, and perfumes because these are known to attract stinging insects.
- When you are outdoor, put on protective clothing that covers you adequately.
- When walking on the grass, you should always wear your shoes.
- Avoid open rubbish bins, cans, or exposed food when outdoors, as this can potentially attract yellow jackets.
Allergens To Test For
- Guinea Pig
- Honey Bee Venom
- When vacuuming, use a micro-filtered bagged vacuum as this helps to prevent allergens from leaking back into the air.