In the case of insect allergy, you are allergic to any substance in the poison that insects inject when they stick with their spikes. When the immune system reacts to the substance to protect the body, you get an allergic reaction. Severe allergic reactions after wasp or bee sting are unusual.
About one in a hundred people are allergic to wasps or bees. Serious reactions to bee and wasp stings are more common in adults than in children. In Sweden, an average of two adults per year die from a severe allergic reaction caused by wasp or bee stings, and we have no deaths in children.
These are common symptoms if you have insect allergy:
- You have redness and swelling around the sting.
- You have itching and elevated mosquito bite-like changes, called hives , on other parts of the body.
- You have swelling of the lips and around the eyes.
In the event of a more severe reaction you may have the same symptoms but also feel:
- Matt and nausea.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Itching especially in the palms, soles of the feet and scalp.
- Spasmodic abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.
Sometimes, but it is unusual, you may get an so-called anaphylactic reaction with hypotension and unconsciousness that can be life-threatening.
Not all complaints are due to allergies
The insecticide contains many substances and some are irritating to the skin. Therefore, you can get symptoms of an insect bite without being allergic. It is common for the skin to become red, itchy, swollen and hurt where you have become knit. The problems usually disappear within a day, but it can sometimes take up to a week before they go over.
If you get a lot of stings, the poison itself can cause a reaction similar to the allergic, although you are not allergic. But an adult can withstand dozens of sticks without getting seriously ill. If you get stuck in your mouth or throat you can become so swollen in your throat that it becomes difficult to breathe.
How does it feel that I am allergic?
If you are not allergic, the place where you get stung by a wasp or bee is usually swollen and reddening more and more. The trouble is usually greatest between twelve and 24 hours after the stab.
If you are allergic, the symptoms will usually be 15 to 60 minutes after, for example, a wasp sting.
When should I seek care?
Call 112 or seek care directly at a health care center or at an emergency room if:
- You have become knit and are allergic to wasp or bee sting, even if you have access to your emergency medicine.
- You have received a strong reaction after a wasp sting that causes you to get hives or swelling on the face, difficult to breathe, cough, feel bad, feel dizzy or cold sweaty.
- You have become stuck in your mouth or throat.
- You have received many stings at the same time and begin to feel bad, become tired or feel unwell.
You can always call and receive medical advice at telephone number 1177 .
What can I do to avoid sticking?
Here’s how to avoid sticking:
- You should not eat or drink outdoors, as meat and sweet food or drink attract insects.
- You should not drink from opened jars or bottles if you cannot see the contents.
- Do not make fast movements or hit a bee or wasp.
- You should not kill a wasp or bee, because they emit scent signals that attract more insects.
- You should not pick fall fruit and be careful when gardening, for example when handling mulched wood.
You can also avoid sticking by having something on your head so that insects do not tangle in the hair and avoid going barefoot.
It is important to bring your emergency medicine with you
If you have an insect allergy, you should always bring your emergency medicine with you if you happen to be stung. You can live a good life despite the allergy if you are properly medicated, know how to avoid sticking and know how to do if you still get stung.
When you first get a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, you need quick treatment. It may then be necessary to have emergency medicine on hand if you get stuck again. You may need antihistamine tablets and, if you are at risk of severe reactions, also use an adrenaline injection pen and cortisone tablets.
The treatment of insect allergy is different depending on whether:
- Treatment for acute problems.
- Treatment for allergic reaction.
- Allergy vaccination treatment.
Treatment for acute problems
If you are looking for insect allergy treatment, you usually get antihistamine and cortisone in tablet form. You can even get an injection pen with adrenaline if it is a more severe allergic reaction. You can stay a few hours for monitoring at reception.
In the event of a more serious reaction to insecticides, you may need to be hospitalized. You are given the same drug and maybe also liquid directly into the blood. At the hospital, the staff monitors that you are well and that the heart and lungs are functioning properly. You will receive additional medicines if you need them.
Treatment may be needed after an allergic reaction
After a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, you get to discuss with your doctor what emergency medicine you need to have on hand in case you get stuck again. For example, you may need antihistamine tablets, adrenaline pens and cortisone tablets. It is good if you get both oral and written information from your doctor about how and when to use your medicine.
In the event of a severe reaction, always start with an adrenaline injection pen. It can cause you to have a heartbeat and feel shaky, but it usually goes over pretty quickly. If you take cortisone as a single dose or just for a few days, you rarely get any side effects, but some people may feel a little agitated or restless.
It is important that you learn in advance how to use the pen, so that you know how to do if you have a severe allergic reaction. It is also important that relatives know how the drug is used. Read the instructions for use that come with the package of medicines carefully in advance and ask a healthcare professional or pharmacist if you are unsure.
Treatment with allergy vaccination
You who have had a severe allergic reaction to a stick and have antibodies to bee or wasp venom in the blood can sometimes get allergy vaccination, also called allergen immunotherapy.
First you get a syringe once a week for about seven weeks and then more and more rarely, a syringe every eight weeks. The treatment lasts for about four years and usually makes you accustomed to and becomes less sensitive to the allergenic substance.
You get the syringe in your upper arm. Often it stings a little on the knitting rack which can also be a little swollen. These problems can be alleviated if you take an antihistamine tablet before receiving the syringe. At each injection, you must stay at the reception for at least half an hour after the syringe, as there is a risk of an allergic reaction.
What is allergy?
Allergy means that you are hypersensitive to any substance. The substance is called an allergen. It is an egg white substance that is completely harmless to most, but that causes some people to have allergic problems.
In those who are prone to allergies, the body can begin to produce allergy antibodies, called IgE. IgE antibodies can be formed against many different substances, for example against the cat allergy that is found everywhere in our environment, both in homes and schools.
The antibodies attach to the surface of some cells in the body that contain histamine and other irritants. When the allergenic substance enters the body, it sticks to the antibodies and causes the cells to release the irritating substances. These substances lead to the allergic reaction: hives. Then you get itchy and raised mosquito bite-like rashes that can occur anywhere on the body.
What happens in the body?
A stick is rarely dangerous
When you get a stick of an insect it becomes noticeable by the skin becoming red and swollen. It also usually burns and itches. Being stung by an insect in Sweden is usually harmless, and if you do not feel bad otherwise you can wait and see if it goes over.
For example, if you have insect allergy, you may have itching and rashes on other parts of the body than at the stinging site. You may sometimes react strongly and need medical attention if you become stung, but more severe allergic reactions after insect stings are uncommon.
Why do I become allergic to insects?
It is not entirely clear why some people get insect allergy. The risk of reacting with allergies if you get a wasp or bee sting does not increase if you have other allergies. However, research has shown that the risk may be greater for you to become allergic to insects if there is a close relative. The risk is also greater if you get stuck many times, for example if you are a beekeeper.
Investigations and investigations
Contact a health care provider to find out if you are allergic . You can tell yourself about yourself, which is very important for the doctor to form an idea of how difficult you are. If you know what kind of insect you were cut off, tell it. It is also good to tell how long it took between the sting and the first symptoms.
Sometimes you can also do some or all of these tests
- Patch test
- RAST test.
If you are allergic, the tests will show that you have allergy antibodies. It is important that you do the tests on time. If the test is done prematurely, the test can incorrectly show that you are not allergic, as all the allergy antibodies have temporarily stopped in connection with the allergic reaction. If it has been a very long time, the amount of antibodies may have dropped so low that the test does not produce a rash. It is OK to do the test within one to six months after you have had the suspected allergic reaction.
Dot testing means that a drop of the allergenic substance is placed on the inside of the forearm. Then, the person doing the examination gently pushes a needle through the drop so that the allergen is introduced into the skin. If you are allergic to the substance, redness and small swelling occur, much like a mosquito bite. After 15 minutes, the redness is measured and drawn off. Although the examination involves a small stick in the skin, few find the dot test uncomfortable.
The advantage of dot testing is that you get a quick message. One disadvantage is that you have to stop taking certain allergy medicines several days before the test. Otherwise there is a risk that the result will be incorrect. The test does not tell you that you have an allergy that causes symptoms, but only shows that you have allergy antibodies to a certain substance.
Sometimes the dot test is done for wasp poison with two strengths of the poison, because you can react strongly to the dot test if you are very allergic. First, you get the weaker dose so that your doctor can see how you react. If you are already allergic then the stronger dose is not needed, but if you do not get any symptoms the dose is increased.
The RAST test is a blood test to check if you have allergy antibodies to a particular substance. You can be tested for allergies to significantly more substances using RAST tests than with dot tests and the test results are not affected by using allergy drugs. Nor does the RAST test say anything about the problems you have with the allergy-causing substance. The test response only shows that you have allergy antibodies in the blood for a certain substance. The doctor evaluates the result along with what you have told about your complaints.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
You can use certain antihistamine tablets if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. The pharmacy staff can advise, but if you have any doubts, contact your doctor.
You should always use your emergency medicine if you have an allergy to wasp or bee and have an allergic reaction. It is more dangerous for the child to have a severe allergic reaction than to be possibly affected by the drug.
Do not start an allergy vaccine if you are pregnant. Hyposensitivity is not dangerous, but the risk of allergic reactions that in turn can harm the fetus is greatest at the beginning of treatment. However, you can continue with ongoing treatment if you become pregnant.
Both bees and wasps belong to a group of insects known as spiny bugs.
Goats are hunters who sting to kill their prey. A wasp can sting several times, but only females sting because the male lacks spike. Bålgeting is one of the wasps species found in Sweden. It has the same kind of poison as other wasp species, but the beetle usually gives off more poison per stick and therefore the reactions can be greater.
A bee uses its spike to defend its community, but because the spike is connected to the intestinal system, the bee dies after the stick. If the spike remains when you have been knit, gently scrape it away, as the venom bladder continues to pump poison.
Bumblebees also have a spike and can stick in self-defense. It may feel like a bum is being burned, but what is felt is the sting of a spike that is not as well seen as the body is the sound. The males lack spike, whereas the queen and workers can be knitted several times.
What insects can cause allergic problems?
It is above all bees and wasps that can cause more severe allergic reactions. A wasp can sting several times while a bee dies after a sting. If the gad remains in the skin after the sting, it is probably a bee you have been stung. A bee sting contains about ten times more venom than a wasp sting and therefore usually produces more severe symptoms.
Bumblebees also have a spike and can stick in self-defence. Allergy to hops has previously been uncommon but has increased in recent years.
You may also be allergic to mosquitoes, but it is much more common than bee and wasp allergy and very rarely causes severe symptoms. In some parts of the world, cockroach allergy is quite common, but not in Sweden because cockroaches are uncommon here. In hot and humid climates where cockroaches are common, they can cause inhalation allergy in the same way as pollen and fur animals with us.