Truths you should know about insect allergies
No one likes getting stung by a bee. It can be traumatizing for a young child and annoying for everyone else. But for those with insect allergies, it can also be life-threatening.
The most serious insect allergic reactions are to five insects:
- Yellow jackets
- Paper wasps
- Fire ants
Signs and symptoms of bee and stinging insect allergy range from mild to severe and can include swelling of the face, throat and lungs, wheezing, difficulty breathing, hives, dizziness, nausea or diarrhea. In the most critical cases, bee allergy and stinging insect allergy can cause anaphylaxis — a severe, life-threatening reaction, which requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot and a trip to the emergency room.
Did you know?
- Cockroaches and dust mites may also cause nasal or skin allergy symptoms.
- Insect sting allergies affect 5 percent of the population
- At least 40 deaths occur each year in the United States due to insect sting reactions
Take the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology’s stinging insect quiz.
Tips and Tricks
- Do not disturb hives and nests around your home; insects are more likely to sting
- Avoid bright colors and sweet smells that might attract insects searching for food
- Avoid open-toed shoes loose-fitting clothes that can allow insects to get close to your skin
- Stay calm and quiet, and slowly move away from any stinging insects you encounter
- Carry an injectable epinephrine and immediately call 911 if you are stung and have a reaction
Wearing an ID
If you know that you have an insect allergy, it’s important to let people around you know, especially if you’re in an outdoor setting like camping or playing sports. If you’re injured in an emergency and cannot communicate this information, that’s where a medical ID comes in. Engraving “Allergic to: INSECT” on your bracelet or necklace can help first responders and other medical professionals provide the most accurate treatment.