When an insect bites most people, they develop a small area of redness and swelling at the site of the bite. However, people with a stinging insect allergy are at risk for having a much more serious reaction, including anaphylaxis (a life-threatening condition that impairs breathing and sends the body into shock).
Most serious reactions are caused by five types of insects:
- Yellow jackets
- Paper wasps
- Fire ants
The symptoms of stinging insect allergy include:
- Swelling of the face, throat, or tongue
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Itchiness and hives over large areas of the body
*You should call 911 immediately or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if you experience this serious symptom.
You should avoid contact with the insect to which you are allergic. If the insects live near or around your home, consider hiring a trained exterminator to get rid of them.
In case you do come into contact with the allergen and begin experiencing symptoms, you may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (“Epi pen”) to help reduce the likelihood of anaphylaxis.
Immunotherapy – also known as allergy shots – can be effective for long-term treatment of your stinging insect allergy. Speak with your allergist about this option.
Your doctor will perform a comprehensive physical exam – including a health history – to help diagnose your stinging insect allergy.
Your allergist may order a blood test to help confirm the diagnosis of a stinging insect allergy.
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