Insect Stings

Feel Good Magazine     Summer 2022

These insects most commonly cause allergic reactions:

  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Hornets
  • Yellow jackets
  • Fire ants

Preventing Stings

Preventive measures include:

  • Keep food covered when eating outdoors
  • Be careful with open drink bottles or cans; insects can fly or crawl inside them
  • Avoid perfumes, hair products, and deodorants
  • Avoid wearing bright, flowered clothing 
  • Avoid wearing sandals or going barefoot in grassy areas
  • When gardening, watch for nests in trees, shrubs, and flower beds
  • Be careful near swimming pools, woodpiles, under eaves of houses, and trash containers

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

For some people, allergic reactions to insect stings can be life-threatening. The reaction can include severe symptoms:

  • Itching and hives over most of the body
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Rapid fall in blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Loss of consciousness

How To Treat Insect Stings

Reactions to the sting are usually at the site of the sting, with redness, swelling, pain, and itching. Generally, the reaction lasts only a few hours, although some may last longer. 

Suggestions for treatment include immediately removing the stinger by scraping it with a fingernail. Do not squeeze the stinger, which may force the venom into the body.

Treatment for those highly allergic can include always carrying epinephrine self-injections called EpiPens®. Talk with your health care provider about getting an epinephrine self-injector if you don’t already have one. Ask about whether you need immunotherapy or allergy shots.

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