Stinging Insect Allergies: Get the Facts

Whether you're dealing with bees in the garden, mosquitoes by the beach, or bedbugs in your home, stinging insects cause pain, irritation, and inconvenience. If you're allergic to insect bites, a sting can be a serious problem, necessitating medication or a trip to the doctor. Dr. Vandana Kumra, MD, one of the top ENT doctors in New York City, offers allergy consultations to help you identify the root causes of allergic symptoms and plan prevention and treatment strategies.

What happens when an insect stings you?

Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow-jackets, and fire ants leave a toxic venom behind, causing pain, itching, redness, stinging, and minor swelling in everyone they sting — as well as possible allergic reactions in some people.

You can also have a toxic reaction to insect stings, with your body reacting to the insect venom as if it's a poison.

Other insects that can cause an allergic reaction after a sting include mosquitoes, kissing bugs, bedbugs, fleas, and certain flies.

How can you know if you're having an allergic reaction?

Stings will always cause discomfort, but if one triggers an allergy, it can threaten your life. If you have an allergic reaction to an insect sting, you'll experience additional symptoms. The symptoms of a toxic reaction are similar to those of an allergic reaction.

Watch for symptoms like:

What should you do if you have an allergic reaction to an insect sting?

First, seek emergency treatment for the symptoms of your allergic reaction. Some medications, including epinephrine, antihistamines, and in some cases, corticosteroids, can be used to treat allergic reactions. If you have a diagnosed insect sting allergy, keep your injectable medications close to hand at all times.

Once you've stabilized your symptoms, contact a doctor right away. You might need to stay overnight in a hospital for monitoring, if you've had a very bad reaction, if there are concerns around drugs that you've been given, or if you need follow-up doses or medications.

After diagnosing your underlying allergy, we may be able to treat you with preventative venom immunotherapy. Without immunotherapy, experiencing one allergic reaction to an insect sting leaves you with a 60% chance of a similar or worse reaction if you're stung again. Based on your medical history, we administer a simple skin test to confirm your suspected allergy, and determine your eligibility for immunotherapy. To schedule an allergy consultation appointment with Dr. Kumra, call our New York City office, or click the “Book Online” button.

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