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A bee sting allergy is a venom allergy that can be potentially fatal. When a person with the allergy is stung by a bee, their body will overreact and start producing defensive chemicals more than needed. This causes the symptoms of the allergy, which can vary from mild to life-threatening.
The allergy is not curable, and people who experience mild symptoms have a significant chance of experiencing more severe symptoms the next time that they’re stung. Severe reactions require emergency health care, while mild and moderate reactions may be a reason to visit an allergy doctor.
The allergic reaction to a bee sting is caused by the venom that the bee injects when it stings. The bee will leave its stinger in the skin and the venom sack that is attached to the sting will release more venom in time. That’s why it’s important to remove the bee sting as soon as possible, in a gentle way – squeezing the sting may cause more venom to enter the body.
The mild forms of symptoms of a bee sting allergy include:
The severe forms of bee sting symptoms include:
These severe symptoms are called anaphylaxis, and they can lead to shock, cardiac arrest, and unconsciousness, with death as a possible outcome. They usually occur within minutes after being stung, and can progress to the most severe form in as little as ten minutes.
The treatment options depend on the severity of the allergic reaction. The allergy itself cannot be cured, so the treatment options that are available deal with the symptoms.
The severe symptoms of bee sting allergy are treated by:
If there is a severe reaction, or anaphylaxis, after a bee sting, it’s important to administer epinephrine as soon as possible. This will prevent further development of severe symptoms. People, who know they are prone to having severe allergic reactions to bee stings, should always have a shot of epinephrine with them. After the shot is administered, it is still a good idea to seek medical assistance. The milder symptoms are treated by:
Removing the sting should be the first step to stop further administration of the venom into the body. Cold compresses applied to the area are soothing, can relieve pain and reduce swelling. Hydrocortisone cream will help remove the redness, swelling and itching if the cold compresses don’t help, as will oral antihistamines.