Know the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Insects

April showers may bring May flowers, but they can also trigger bouts of allergies and the return of unwanted visitors, like stinging insects.

When you have allergies, your immune system has an abnormal reaction to certain substances it comes in contact with, like pollen and dust. These responses aren’t isolated to elements in the air either. You can also have allergic reactions to insects because of the venom they release when they sting.

Some of the most serious allergies come from five types of stinging insects, including:

But how do you know if you have an allergy to insect venom? Our team of allergists at Advanced Allergy & Asthma in Ogden, Utah, recommends watching for local and systemic reactions.

Local reactions

Almost everyone develops a local reaction to an insect sting and safely recovers within hours or days. Having a local reaction means you have physical changes near the sting location, like a bump, redness, rash, or swelling. 

While local reactions to insect stings can be large and cause discomfort, they usually aren't cause for concern. If you have significant pain or swelling, we might prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to help manage your symptoms.

However, some insects can also sting repeatedly. Even if you don’t have an insect sting allergy, this can cause an allergic response in your body. When you have an allergy to insects, they usually trigger a systemic reaction and require immediate medical attention.

Systemic reactions

When you have a systemic reaction to insect venom, you experience symptoms in other areas of your body unrelated to the sting. 

Common signs of a systemic allergic reaction include:

When you have a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting, it’s known as anaphylaxis. This response can occur within minutes and can be life-threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include dizziness, a sharp drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, or cardiac arrest. Anaphylaxis requires medical attention immediately.

Once you have a systemic reaction to an insect bite, you have a 60% chance of having a similar or worse response if stung again in the future.

Confirming an insect sting allergy

Fortunately, it’s easy to determine if you have an allergy to a stinging insect so you can safely enjoy spending time outdoors.

During your appointment, we discuss your medical history and the reaction to stings you experienced in the past. Based on this conversation, we might recommend a skin prick test, intradermal skin test, or a blood test to check for signs of an allergic reaction.

After confirming an insect sting allergy, we can work closely with you to outline a management and treatment strategy, like venom immunotherapy. This long-term treatment focuses on gradually decreasing your sensitivity to insect venom over time.

For more information on insect allergies and venom immunotherapy, contact one of our convenient locations in Ogden by calling or requesting an appointment online today.

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