How serious is an allergy to bees?

First things first: bee sting allergy becomes serious to the highly allergic individual. Bees aren’t exactly fatal insects. They are simply looking for food, but once one intervenes or tramples on their nests, trouble comes in. It has been reported that there are approximately 40 people who die from bee sting allergy every year.

Once a person has been stung, he develops allergy to the venom of the insect. Other than bees, these are the insects that can trigger violent allergic reactions: wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants and hornets. All of them are classified in the Hymenoptera order.

Bees are the most common stinging insects and they are not that violent unless a person provokes them. It is not so hard to spot a bee – just look for a hairy-bodied insect with yellow and black markings. They hover over flowers and clovers. Here is an interesting fact: they die as soon as they sting.

Bee sting allergic reactions include the following: dizzy spells, itching, swelling and welts. Such reactions will go on for a few minutes. The severe reactions set in when the person experiences trouble in breathing develops low blood pressure, headache, cramps, vomiting, and anaphylactic shock and finally succumbs to death.

The severe reaction to bee sting allergy happens to persons who are very allergic to the venom, older people with heart and chest problems or those who get multiple stings.

It is important to know what to do if a bee sting occurs. Here are the following tips people should keep in mind:

1. Keep away from bee-friendly areas.

If one is allergic to bee stings, he must stay away from places where bees are prolific. If a swarm of bees are headed one’s way, he just has to run fast as bees fly slowly anyway. If a bee continues approaching, he must stay put. He must never swat the bees as they might get frightened. If a bee lands on his skin, he must blow it off.

2. If stung, know what to do.

This includes spotting the barbed stinger and flicking it off the skin. Remember that if stung in the neck or head, the danger is increased tenfold.

The stung person must never squeeze the affected area for it might just permit the venom to penetrate the skin. There should be an application of ice or cold compress to the affected area.

The most effective treatment for bee sting allergies is through hyposensitization injection or specific immunotherapy (SIT). It is executed weekly then every six weeks for the next 3 or 5 years until a person receives 96 percent protection from bee stings.

If professional medical help cannot be given immediately, you must look for a tourniquet and apply it to a limb. There are also preloaded adrenalin syringes like Epipen and Ana-Guard that are specifically for emergency use. Puffing the Medihaler-Epi, an adrenalin inhaler, might help relieve the throat swelling and chest tightening. Cortisone and Phenergan, fast-acting and effective antihistamines, can work for less severe reactions.

3. Be prepared.

The person must make sure an insecticide spray is handy. A “bee cloth” which is used to trap bees and prevent stings can work as well.

Bees are attracted to floral fragrances so if one is more prone to bee stings, he has to keep the perfume to a minimum. He must wear white clothing.  Since bees love bright colors it’s best to avoid them. He must keep from eating fruits outdoors and applying hair tonics on places where bees are found.

Children must be warned that they should not place their fingers inside flowers because that’s where bees get their pollen.  Walking barefoot on clover fields is a no-no. Food must be covered outdoors. By midsummer time, mowing lawns or trimming hedges must be avoided.

Upon coming across a bee hive, it’s best not to disturb it. There are bee keepers who will remove it if one wishes to.

4. People prone to bee stings must know prophylactic management.

If a person always attracts bees and develops serious reactions, he must have an adrenalin injection so he can treat himself should the need arise. There are cases when antihistamine pills will do. He must also wear a Medic Alert bracelet.

The seriousness of a bee allergy can be warded off immediately if one knows the proper treatment and avoidance measures.

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