It is estimated that over 13.5 million may be at risk for anaphylaxis due to insect stings. Reactions can happen at any age and can even occur after you have had a normal local reaction in the past. Most everyone will react to an insect sting in some way, however, the severity of the reaction varies by individual. Some may not experience a reaction until they have been stung several times.
The top five stinging insects that cause severe allergic reactions are: bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. Patients with insect sting allergy are at risk of having a life-threatening reaction each time they are stung.
What are Insect Allergies?
There are three types of reactions to insect stings:
Anyone who has experienced an allergic reaction in the past has a significantly increased chance of a similar or worse reaction if stung again. If you have experienced an allergic reaction of any kind, consult a board-certified allergist as soon as possible. Your board-certified allergist will perform an evaluation to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Venom Immunotherapy (allergy shots) to bees, wasps or fire ants, if warranted, is a potential treatment option. Venom Immunotherapy can reduce the likelihood of anaphylaxis by more than 95 percent from future stings and may result in permanent desensitization to the insect venom.
Over 90% of patients who complete venom immunotherapy will never suffer from a systemic reaction again.
Here in the Lowcountry, fire ants cause a majority of insect sting allergies. Additionally, because fire ants are so widespread and active year-round in the Lowcountry, it can be very hard to avoid future stings even with appropriate precaution.
If you or someone you know has experienced a life-threatening insect sting reaction, make an appointment today to see one of our board-certified allergists.