Our expert physicians specialize in the treatment of allergy, food allergy, asthma, and sinus problems, as well as other conditions, such as hay fever, hives, eczema, contact dermatitis, insect allergies, drug reactions, anaphylaxis, and immune deficiency conditions.
Allergic reactions to insect stings can be severe, to the extreme of being fatal. Like other acute allergic reactions, the mechanism is a specific immune response to a foreign substance, in this case insect venom. The insects capable of eliciting an allergic reaction include fire ant, yellow jacket, wasp, hornet, and honeybee. There are two types of insect reactions - local redness and swelling vs. systemic or whole-body reactions. It is the latter that is allergic in nature. Local reactions, while annoying, are not serious and do not require medical treatment or workup.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be limited to the skin as hives or involve multiple organs, referred to as anaphylaxis (dizziness, weakness, swelling of nose, lips, tongue and throat, nausea, breathlessness, or loss of consciousness). The allergic reaction usually begins within minutes of a sting, but can be delayed in rare situations for up to two hours.
Epinephrine is the main treatment for a systemic reaction to an insect sting. To prevent future reactions, the best option is to have skin testing to determine which insect you’re allergic to and then start allergy shots to ‘turn off’ your allergic sensitivity. Allergy shots are given weekly at first, but soon spread out to monthly and finally out to every 6-8 weeks towards the end of the five year course.
If you feel you or a family member is suffering from an insect allergy, call 941-927-4888 to schedule an appointment today.