A life-threatening reaction to an insect sting is a frightening experience, which would make anyone hesitant to enjoy the outdoors the way you used to before your reaction. Do not let insect allergies change your life. With the insect allergy relief from Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center, you will resume enjoying nature with confidence and peace of mind. Schedule an appointment today in Hillsborough, New Jersey, for evaluation of your allergy.
Each year, insects sting many Americans. For most, these stings mean pain and discomfort generally lasting only a few hours. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, and itching at the site of the sting.
However, some people are allergic to insect stings. This means that their immune systems overreact to the venom injected by a stinging insect. After the first sting, the body produces an allergic substance called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody, which reacts with the insect venom. If an insect of the same or similar species stings him or her again, the insect venom interacts with the IgE antibody produced in response to the earlier sting. This triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause allergic symptoms.
For a small number of people with severe venom allergy, stings may be life threatening. Severe allergic reactions to insect stings can involve many body organs and may develop rapidly. This reaction is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include itching and hives over large areas of the body, swelling in the throat or tongue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea.
In severe cases, a rapid fall in blood pressure may result in shock and loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and may be fatal. If you or anyone else experiences any of these symptoms after an insect sting, obtain emergency medical treatment immediately. After your symptoms are treated in the emergency room, you should also obtain referral to an allergist/immunologist to learn about allergy care and treatment options.
Anyone who has had a serious adverse reaction to an insect sting should be evaluated by an allergist/immunologist, who will take a thorough history, perform an examination, and recommend testing to determine whether you have an allergy, and which type of stinging insect caused the reaction. Skin testing for insect allergy is used to detect the presence of significant amounts of IgE antibody.
We will help you determine the best management of your insect allergy. People who have severe allergies to insect venom should consider receiving insect venom immunotherapy, a highly effective vaccination program that actually prevents future allergic sting reactions in 97% of treated patients. During immunotherapy, the allergist/immunologist administers gradually stronger doses of venom extract initially every week, but as maintenance doses are reached the interval expands to one month.
If you have questions about venom immunotherapy or other treatments for stinging insect allergy, be sure to ask us. Patients who receive appropriate treatment such as immunotherapy and who practice careful avoidance measures can participate in regular outdoor activities without the fear of anaphylaxis.
The easiest way to avoid stings is to stay out of the “territory” of the stinging insects’ nests. These insects are most likely to sting if their homes are disturbed, so it is important to have hives and nests around your home destroyed. Since this activity can be dangerous, a trained exterminator should be hired. We also recommend the following:
If you are stung by a honeybee that has left its stinger (and attached venom sac) in your skin, remove the stinger within 30 seconds to avoid receiving more venom. A quick scrape of a fingernail removes the stinger and sac. Avoid squeezing the sac, as this forces more venom through the stinger and into the skin. Hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets do not usually leave their stingers. Try to remain calm, and brush these insects from the skin promptly with deliberate movements to prevent additional stings. Then, quietly and immediately leave the area.
To avoid stinging insects, it is important to learn what they look like and where they live. Five types of insects cause most sting reactions - yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, hornets, and fire ants.
Yellow jackets are black with yellow markings, and are found in various climates. Their nests, which are made of a paper-maché material, are usually located underground, but can sometimes be found in the walls of frame buildings, cracks in masonry or woodpiles.
Honeybees have a rounded, “fuzzy” body with dark brown coloring and yellow markings. Upon stinging, the honeybee usually leaves its barbed stinger in its victim, where the bee dies as a result. Honeybees are non-aggressive and will only sting when provoked. However, Africanized honeybees, or so-called “killer bees” found in the southwestern United States and South and Central America, are more aggressive and may sting in swarms. Domesticated honeybees live in man-made hives, while wild honeybees live in colonies or “honeycombs” in hollow trees or cavities of buildings. Africanized honeybees may nest in holes in house frames, between fence posts, in old tires or holes in the ground, or other partially protected sites.
Paper wasps‘ slender, elongated bodies are black, brown, or red with yellow markings. Their nests are also made of a paper-like material that forms a circular comb of cells that opens downward. The nests are often located under eaves, behind shutters, or in shrubs or woodpiles.
Hornets are black or brown with white, orange, or yellow markings and are usually larger than yellow jackets. Their nests are gray or brown, football-shaped, and made of a paper material similar to that of yellow jackets’ nests. Hornets’ nests are usually found high above ground on branches of trees, in shrubbery, on gables or in tree hollows.
Fire ants are reddish brown to black stinging insects related to bees and wasps. They build nests of dirt in the ground that may be quite tall (18 inches) in the right kinds of soil. Fire ants may attack with little warning - after firmly grasping the victim’s skin with its jaws, the fire ant arches its back as it inserts its rear stinger into the skin. It then pivots at the head and may inflict multiple stings in a circular pattern. Fire ant venom often causes an immediate burning sensation.
Contact us to use our services for your insect allergies. We proudly provide insect allergy relief for patients throughout Bridgewater, Clinton, and Hillsborough, New Jersey.