Management of bee sting allergy

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It is vital that you know how to properly deal with a bee sting since allergic reactions are likely to occur. Once an individual has a known bee sting allergy and has an on hand EpiPen, you have to administer a shot if an allergic reaction is occurring.

In case an individual is not known to be allergic to bee stings, but was stung by a bee or any stinging insect such as a yellow jacket, wasp or hornet, there are measures to bear in mind in order to monitor an allergic reaction.

Removal of the stinger

Essentially, only honeybees leave their stingers behind after a sting due to the barbs. It is vital to remove the stinger as soon as possible, preferably less than 10 seconds after the individual was stung. This is important since it reduces the amount of venom injected into the body.

Once an individual has a known bee sting allergy and has an on hand EpiPen, you have to administer a shot.

The method on how to remove the stinger whether pinching or scraping is not important contrary to popular belief. If you spend a lot of time attempting to remove the stinger by delicately scraping at it, more time passes by and all the venom has already been injected.

Monitor for indications of an allergic reaction

Almost everyone even those who have bee sting allergy can suffer from the symptoms of redness, pain, swelling and itchiness at the sting site. Remember that the symptoms are not dangerous and can be easily managed. Nevertheless, if the individual was stung on the tongue, lips, inside the mouth or throat, severe swelling at the sting site can be considered as an emergency.

The indications of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis include the following:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fast heart rate and fainting feeling
  • Abdominal upset
  • Skin rashes or puffiness at the sting site

Once these symptoms occur, they typically start within a few minutes of being stung. In case several of these symptoms are present, seek immediate medical attention.  While waiting for the emergency team, you can inject epinephrine that was prescribed to him/her if available.

You can also provide the individual with an oral antihistamine only if the individual is able to swallow and does not have severe swelling of the lips, tongue or throat.

Manage the side effects of the bee sting

In case the only symptom is pain, swelling and redness at the sting site and the location was not on the face, the individual is not likely to experience a severe allergic reaction.

You can provide an oral antihistamine as quickly as possible. This can help deal with the localized reaction and reduce or lessen the severity of an allergic reaction later. These medications are available over-the-counter without the need for a prescription.

Make sure that you will monitor the individual closely for indications of an allergic reaction especially the initial 30-60 minutes after being stung. Most cases of severe allergic reactions tend to occur during this time frame and might be uncommon 4 hours or more after sustaining a sting.

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