What causes an insect allergy?
An allergy is caused by your immune system’s overreaction to a trigger, such as the venom from a stinging insect. When your immune system identifies a relatively harmless substance (allergen) as dangerous, it releases antibodies that travel to cells, causing them to produce chemicals such as histamine to fight off what it mistakes for a threat to your health. These chemicals cause the symptoms common to allergies, such as hives.
How do I know whether I’m allergic to insects?
Everyone can expect discomfort, mild swelling, and a red bump to form as the result of an insect sting.
An allergic reaction causes more systemic symptoms that affect areas other than the sting site. These symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the throat or tongue
- Dizziness, confusion
- Chest tightness and difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Nausea, vomiting
- Itching and/or red splotches (hives) over large areas of the body
A severe allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
Even if you aren’t allergic to stinging insects, multiple stings during a single event can result in a toxic reaction to the venom. The symptoms are like those of an allergic reaction and require urgent medical care.
Which insects should I be most concerned about?
Honeybees are a familiar part of most landscapes and responsible for many allergic reactions. Don’t, however, overlook the danger of these other common flying insects, which, unlike honeybees, can sting multiple times:
These common flying insects may be black or brown with white, orange, or yellow stripes. They typically build large gray or brown nests in trees and tend to swarm when they feel threatened.
This type of wasp is black with bold yellow markings. It typically builds nests underground, in woodpiles, or in the walls of buildings.
Seen most often in spring and early summer, wasps can be black, brown, red, or shades of yellow. These slender insects build nests with circular tube-like “rooms” that can be found in shrubs or under the eaves of buildings.
Fire ants also cause allergic reactions in other parts of the United States.
Schedule a visit at Advanced Allergy & Asthma today for more information about insect allergies and how you can prevent a sting from spoiling your outdoor adventures. Call the office or book an appointment online.