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For many people, an insect sting can be uncomfortable and result in redness and swelling at the sting site. However, some people are allergic to the venom injected into the skin from honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants, causing a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Experts estimate that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings, and many of these individuals are at risk of suffering life-threatening reactions to insect venom. Insect stings send more than 500,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms every year and cause at least 50 known deaths each year.

The board-certified allergists/immunologists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists are specially trained to help patients prevent a dangerous reaction from insect stings.

How do you know if you’re allergic to insect stings?

The severity of an insect-sting reaction varies from person to person and from one sting to the next. A systemic allergic reaction is the most serious and requires medical attention. Symptoms of a systemic allergic reaction can range from mild to severe. They may include the following, either alone or in combination:

• Hives
• Itchiness
• Flushing
• Swelling in areas away from the sting
• Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure
• A hoarse voice, swelling of the tongue, or difficulty swallowing
• Itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site
• Abdominal cramping, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
• Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that impairs breathing and can cause the body to go into shock

If a person begins to experience signs of anaphylaxis, what should he or she do?

Anaphylaxis can occur within minutes of a sting and is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that impairs breathing, causes a sudden drop in blood pressure, and can send the body into shock. A dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), typically administered in an auto-injector, and immediate medical attention are required.

People who have already experienced a systemic allergic reaction to an insect sting are at risk of a similar or worse reaction if they are stung again. Those who have had a possible systemic allergic reaction to an insect sting should carry two epinephrine auto-injectors and see a board-certified allergist.

What does an insect-allergy exam entail?

The board-certified allergists/immunologists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists will perform a series of skin tests to determine all types of insects to which you may be allergic. Your allergist will then institute a three-step approach to preventing a life-threatening reaction to insect stings.

If you think you are allergic to stinging insects, call (800) 86-COUGH to schedule a consultation.

Allergy & Asthma Specialists, P.C., a group practice with eight locations in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, provides state-of-the-art medical care in a personal and caring environment, emphasizing the control of asthma and allergic disease while at the same time avoiding side effects from medications.

Allergy & Asthma Specialists

Locations: Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Pottstown, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Lansdale, Doylestown
Office hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Evening appointments available weekly on alternating days.
Toll-free: (800) 86-COUGH
Local: (610) 825-5800
Website: www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com

Learn more about the Allergy and Asthma Specialists here.

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