What Is The Difference Between A Normal And Allergic Reaction To An Insect Bite/Sting?

Every year, 40 deaths in the United States result from insect stings. This is the result of an allergic reaction to certain insects. Overall, estimates conclude that insect allergies affect around 5% of the American population. While this is a small percentage of the total, it nonetheless is a concern. While few people do not have some sort of physical response to the actions of an insect, some do. The question is, how do you differentiate between a normal and allergic response?

The Trouble with Insects

Everyone has been bitten or stung. In our daily lives, even in urban areas, it is hard to escape. The most common suspects are the usual ones:

    • Ants – most notorious are fire ants
    • Bees – particularly honeybees
    • Wasps
    • Yellow jackets
    • Hornets

No matter who you are, your body will react to the injection of the insect’s venom. This confuses the matter. However, while many of the symptoms are similar, the extent of them may help differentiate between normal and allergic reactions.

Reactions and Insect Bites and Stings

A normal reaction tends to consist of pain and swelling. There may also be redness. However, it is usually confined to a specific area – the actual site of the bite or sting. What is also notably shorter and less severe than an allergic reaction is the duration. If you are not allergic to the insect’s venom, you will be itchy and sore briefly. The symptoms may disappear within minutes or even hours. At most, the site will be itchy for a day or two but not noticeably so.

However, allergic reactions do not adopt the same pattern. You experience redness and swelling, but the extent and duration differ substantially. It will depend upon the specific type of allergic reaction you have. It may fall into one of two categories.

  1. Non-localized: The symptoms will spread beyond the localized area. The swelling will affect the entire limb where the bite or sting occurred. The evidence of the sting will endure for days, peaking within two or three but also capable of lasting for an entire week. You may also experience hives, itchiness and flushing
  2. Systemic Allergic Reaction: This is the most severe type of insect allergy. It will require you seek medical help. You may have the hives, swelling and pain of normal or non-localized bites. However, you will also experience reactions that include:
    • Dizziness and/or a sharp decrease in blood pressure
    • A rough voice, tongue swelling and/or difficulty in swallowing
    • Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

What Is The Difference Between A Normal And Allergic Reaction To An Insect Bite/Sting?If not addressed immediately, you may sink into unconsciousness or go into cardiac arrest or anaphylactic shock.These symptoms and the result make allergic reactions very different from those of the average person. If you feel you are at risk, talk to your doctor and consult a specialist.

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