Many people eagerly anticipate the spring and summer months as they dream of warm breezes, sunshine, and the ability to participate in outdoor activities like gardening, tennis, or cycling. But for some, warmer weather comes with a deadly risk—a bee sting allergic reaction. If you or someone you know has had a bee sting allergic reaction in the past or has reason to believe they are at risk for this type of serious health issue, the following information will help you learn to recognize and manage the risk.
How common is a bee sting allergic reaction?
A bee sting allergic reaction is one type of anaphylaxis, a serious, sometimes life-threatening health risk often related to allergies to foods and medications, as well as bee and insect stings. Because most humans are able to withstand up to ten stings per pound of body weight, anaphylaxis due to bee stings is relatively rare, with hypersensitivity believed to affect approximately one to two of every one thousand people. Many of the affected may not realize they are at risk for a bee sting allergic reaction until they are stung, so it is important to learn to recognize the symptoms of a reaction.
How can you help someone who is having a bee sting allergic reaction?
If you or someone you know is stung by bees or other common stinging insects, it is important to remain calm. Feelings of panic can produce a systemic reaction that can worsen the effects of any type of insect sting. If you are not the one stung, first, try to determine if the injured person knows if they are allergic to bee or insect stings. Victims who know they are at risk for experiencing anaphylaxis should seek or be helped to obtain medical care immediately.
In addition, it is also important that victims with no history of being at risk for a bee sting allergic reaction seek medical care if they experience one or more of the following symptoms that often indicate a severe allergic reaction, including these:
- difficulties in breathing, speaking, or swallowing
- severe headaches, chest pain, or dizziness
- shock or unconsciousness
- cramps, vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
- a severe rash, hives, or swelling beyond the sting site or extensive swelling at the sting site
Remember that symptoms do not always occur immediately, so make sure that anyone who is stung by an insect with the potential for a severe reaction is watched carefully for developing symptoms after the sting event.
What should you do to avoid a potential bee sting allergic reaction?
The best way to avoid the potential for a bee sting allergic reaction is to avoid areas where bees (and other stinging insects) are likely to congregate, such as flower gardens and bee hives. In most cases, bees and stinging insects typically sting as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened.
You can lessen the risk of being stung by bees and other stinging insects by taking the following steps when you are outdoors in areas frequented by bees and insects:
- choosing to avoid wearing bright colors, floral prints, and scented products, such as perfumes, colognes, body sprays, and hair care products, all of which are capable of attracting attention from bees and other stinging insects
- choosing to wear snug clothing that covers the arms and legs and prevents bees from crawling up sleeves and pant legs
- choosing to avoid going barefoot to avoid the risk of stepping on a bee or stinging insect
- choosing to refrain from drinking or eating outdoors, especially foods and beverages that attract the interest of bees and stinging insects, such as fruits, sugary drinks, meats, and pastries
If a bee, wasp, or stinging insect begins to buzz around you, remember to avoid making sudden movements that might frighten it, such as swatting at them or waving your hands. Instead, make every effort to remain calm and begin to move slowly away from the area. To learn more about allergic reactions to bee stings, visit a website like http://www.oakbrookallergists.com.