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Bee Sting Allergy Facts

Bee stings can cause painful reactions, but for people with bee sting allergies, these reactions can be extremely dangerous.

How Do You Know if You're Allergic to Bees?

Most people stung by bees develop some pain, redness, swelling and itching. However, someone that is highly allergic to bee stings suffers from an overreaction of their immune system and experiences far more serious allergy symptoms. Approximately 3% of people stung by bees will show an anaphylactic reaction that may be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis may include two or more of the following symptoms - itching and hives, 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 have these symptoms after an insect sting, get emergency medical treatment. After treatment, you should also ask for a referral to an allergist / immunologist and learn how to stay safe in the future.

Why Do Bees Sting?

Bees sting to defend their nest and protect their colony from harm and do not sting for no reason. Also, bees and other stinging insects sting to paralyze or subdue their prey that they feed on. When stinging insects are alerted to potential danger they will aggressively attack and sting to force people or animals away from the nest. Removal of stinging insect nests should be done only by a professional and experienced removal expert to avoid dangerous stings when approaching the nests.

What to Do for a Bee Sting?

Bee sting management involves the following steps and procedures:

  • Within 30 seconds after being stung, remove the stinger if it remains in your skin to avoid receiving more infected venom. Do not squeeze the venom sac since doing so will result in more venom being infected into the skin.

  • Retreat from the area to avoid additional stings.

  • Raise the affected limb that was stung to help slow down the circulation of venom.

  • Apply a cold compress to help reduce swelling and pain.

  • Gently clean the area with soap and water to prevent secondary infections. Do not break any blisters that have formed.

  • Use topical steroid ointments or oral antihistamines to relieve itching.

Individuals with bee sting allergies should perform the following steps:

  • See your physician if swelling progresses or if the sting site seems infected.

  • If your doctor prescribes one and you are severely insect sting-allergic, carry auto-injectable epinephrine. Epinephrine is a rescue medication only, so still have someone take you to an emergency room immediately if you are stung. Those with severe allergies may want to consider wearing a bracelet or necklace that identifies the wearer as having severe allergies.

  • If recommended by your doctor, learn how and when to self-administer the epinephrine and replace the device before the labeled expiration date.

How to Help Prevent Getting Stung by a Bee?

Some useful and important ways to reduce or prevent bee stings include:

  • If bees are close by, remain calm and slowly move away.

  • Avoid or be extra cautious when around flowering plants.

  • If possible, avoid brightly colored clothing and using perfume when outdoors.

  • Wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.

  • Because the smell of food attracts insects, be careful outdoors when cooking, eating or drinking sweet drinks.

  • Beware of stinging insects inside straws or canned drinks.

  • Keep food covered until eaten.

  • Wear closed-toe shoes outdoors and avoid going barefoot.

  • Avoid loose-fitting garments that can trap insects between the material and skin.

Do Bees Die After Stinging?

Honey bees die after stinging. Wasps and hornets do not.

Learn more about bee stings and turn to Orkin to remove bees safely and effectively from your home and yard.


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