Stinging Insect Allergies
(Bee Stings, Wasp Stings, Others)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Stinging insect allergy facts
- What are stinging insects?
- Who is at risk for insect sting allergies?
- What types of insect sting reactions occur?
- How is a severe allergic reaction immediately treated?
- How can I avoid insect stings?
- What can I do about becoming immune to insect allergy?
- Patient Comments: Insect Sting Allergies - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Insect Sting Allergies - Treatment
- Find a local Asthma & Allergy Specialist in your town
Stinging insect allergy facts
- Severity of reactions to stings varies greatly.
- Most insect stings do not produce allergic reactions.
- Anaphylactic reactions are the most serious reactions and can be fatal.
- Avoidance and prompt treatment are essential.
- Epinephrine (available in portable, self-injectable form) is the treatment of choice for anaphylactic reactions.
- In selected people, allergy injection therapy is highly effective in preventing future reactions.
- The three "A's" of insect allergy are adrenaline, avoidance, and allergist.
What are stinging insects?
Stinging insects found in the United States include honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. While not everyone is allergic to insect venom, reactions in the skin such as mild pain, swelling, and redness may occur with an insect sting.
Who is at risk for insect sting allergies?
Over 2 million Americans are allergic to stinging insects. The degree of allergy varies widely. Most people are not allergic to insect stings, and most insect stings result in only local itching and swelling. Many, however, will have severe allergic reactions. Severe allergic reactions to insect stings are responsible for at least 50 deaths each year in the U.S.
If you are known to be allergic to insect stings, then the next sting is more likely to be similar or worse than the previous sting. Since most stings occur in the summer and fall, you are at greatest risk during these months. Males under the age of 20 are the most common victims of serious insect-sting allergic reactions, but this may reflect a greater exposure to insects of males, rather than a true predisposition.
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