2003-08-07 / Medical

There May Be Hope For Millions Who

Suffer From Insect Sting Reaction
There May Be Hope For Millions Who Suffer From Insect Sting Reaction

There’s a buzz in the air and it’s not a friendly one. Now that summer is here, legions of stinging insects have begun their carnivorous assault on outdoor activities across America. These hostile marauders often leave in their wake: widespread fear, painful stings and even death. If you find yourself under siege, resist the temptation to launch a counter strike. This type of retaliatory action is best left to the professionals. If you become a sting victim, a trip to the hospital may be in order.

According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, most insect stings result in a normal reaction. Symptoms include: pain, swelling, itching and redness confined to the sting site. Recommended treatment includes: gently disinfecting the area, using ice to reduce the swelling and using topical steroid ointments or oral antihistamines to relieve the itching. Sometimes a normal reaction can be rather large extending well beyond the sting site (a sting on the wrist may cause the entire arm to swell). If this situation persists for more than a day or two, a physician should be consulted.

For one to two percent of the population, an insect sting reaction will be allergic in nature. This type of reaction is characterized by: hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site; tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing; dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure; unconsciousness or cardiac arrest. An allergic reaction can occur in minutes after the sting and may be life threatening or even fatal. Immediate medical attention is required and may involve the administration of certain drugs and in some cases intravenous fluids, oxygen and other treatments.

Because there is a 60% likelihood of a reoccurrence upon re-sting, allergic patients should seek follow-up care from an allergist. This specialist will evaluate a patient’s allergic condition and may prescribe an insect sting kit for emergency treatment and/or immunotherapy; a highly effective vaccination program for life-long protection against allergic reactions.

It was recently shown in a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, that most people who are allergic to insect stings who undergo a two-year vaccination program will have a prolonged benefit and a permanent loss of allergy. This is good news for the two million Americans who suffer from potentially life-threatening allergic reactions and the crippling fear associated with them.

For persons interested in learning more about allergic reactions to insect stings, a free brochure written by the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology is available by calling 1-800-23 STING.

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