Here in Tampa, our medley of vibrant flora and fauna certainly enhances the beauty of our environment. But for those with insect sting allergies, this can also mean potential encounters with small foes like bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. If you’re confused about your reaction to insect stings, let Allergy, Asthma & Immunology of Tampa Bay (AllergyTampa.com) help with high-quality care and expert advice.
How Common Are Insect Sting Allergies?
During their lifetime, 94.5% of people are stung by an insect, including wasps, honeybees, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. While most people show typical local symptoms, 5% to 15% of those stung will develop local allergic reactions, and 3% to 8.9% will develop systemic allergic reactions. About 10% of systemic reactions will be potentially life-threatening.
Allergic Reactions to Insect Stings
An individual experiencing a mild allergic reaction may endure symptoms such as redness, swelling, and itching at the sting site. While these symptoms can be uncomfortable, they’re typically not life-threatening. However, for some, a sting could trigger a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the throat and tongue, difficulty breathing, generalized rashes, abdominal pain, rapid pulse, dizziness, and/or loss of consciousness. This type of reaction is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention and treatment with injectable epinephrine
Delays and Variations of Allergic Reactions
It’s important to understand that severe reactions often occur within minutes of the sting, but some individuals may experience a delayed reaction hours later. The severity of your reaction doesn’t always correlate with past reactions either, meaning even if you’ve had mild reactions in the past, you could still potentially experience anaphylaxis from a future sting.
What to Do If You Have an Allergic Reaction to an Insect Sting
If you’ve experienced a reaction to an insect sting, it’s essential to seek medical evaluation. If you experience a severe reaction, call 9-1-1 and go to the nearest emergency room immediately. For mild reactions, schedule a visit with a local allergist, who can help you identify triggers and manage symptoms. Here at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology of Tampa Bay, we’re equipped with an array of diagnostic tools to confirm insect sting allergies, including skin tests or blood tests to detect the presence of venom-specific antibodies. Identifying the specific insect you’re allergic to can help you better prepare and protect yourself.
Treatment for Insect Sting Allergies
Once diagnosed, the recommended treatment typically involves carrying an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) for immediate administration in case of a severe allergic reaction. In addition, allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, has proven effective in preventing future severe reactions in 97% of cases.
Prevention of Reactions to Insect Stings
Prevention is also key. When outdoors, we recommend wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and closed-toe shoes. Avoid wearing bright colors or floral prints, as they can attract insects. If you have food or drinks outdoors, keep them covered to deter insects.
Get Next-Level Allergy Care in Tampa Bay
Despite Tampa Bay’s insect-rich environment, an insect sting allergy doesn’t have to dampen your enjoyment of our beautiful outdoors. With proper management and precautions, you can continue to soak in the sun and live an active life without fear of a severe allergic reaction. We’re always here to help at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology of Tampa Bay, providing top-notch care for our community and residents. Contact us at 813-971-9743 to schedule an appointment today!