Help! Do I Have a Bee Allergy?
It’s summertime. It’s the season for parties, pools, and fun. One guest who didn’t get invited to that party? Bees. That’s right, ‘tis the season for all kinds of insects, including bees. If you have a bee allergy to the striped critters, summer requires an extra level of precaution.
But, what if you’re not sure if you have a bee allergy? What if you get stung? Read on for the full scoop on these important (but dangerous to some) pollinators.
How to Know If You Have a Bee Allergy and What to Do Next
If you’re not sure if you have a bee allergy and don’t want to wait until you get stung to find out, contact us for an appointment. We can assess your situation and determine if you have an allergy.
Once you know you’re allergic, you can also talk to us about preventative immunotherapy. With immunotherapy, your doctor can give you extremely small doses of the allergen. While your allergy won’t completely go away, this therapy will help make your reaction less severe if you get stung by a bee again. Also, consider wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet to alert medical personnel to your allergy.
Symptoms of a Bee Allergy
If you do get stung by a bee before confirming whether or not you have a bee allergy, you should know that there are some responses that are completely normal, including itching, redness, and swelling around the site of the sting. Typically, it hurts for a few hours, then it feels better. Scroll down further to see some things you can do if you have this mild reaction to a bee sting.
There are other reactions that are tell-tale signs of a bee allergy that you must not ignore. Rarely, someone who has never experienced an allergic reaction can have life-threatening symptoms after a sting. This is when quick action is required.
Seek medical attention if you experience the following serious symptoms of a bee allergy after you get stung:
• Itching, hives, or swelling over large portions of your body, not just the site of the sting
• Swelling of the face, throat, or tongue
• Difficulty breathing
• Stomach cramps
• Nausea or diarrhea
• Loss of consciousness
• If you were stung by a swarm of bees
Feel Better After a Bee Sting
If you get stung and already know that you have a bee allergy, use an epinephrine shot (Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen). Even if the shot seems to do the trick, call 911. You will still need medical attention.
If you don’t have a bee allergy, stings can still be uncomfortable. Here’s how to feel better in no time:
• Ice the sting off and on (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off), but don’t put ice directly on the skin.
• As with any other injury, raise the area of the sting to reduce the swelling.
• To make you more comfortable, take an antihistamine and use a hydrocortisone cream to ease swelling and itching.
• The redness and swelling should go away within 5-10 days.
Prevention Is Key
The best way to avoid bee stings? Avoid the bees! Ok, we know that sounds obvious, but here are some ways to reduce your chances of getting stung.
• Don’t wear sandals on the grass, and definitely don’t go barefoot. Try to wear closed-toed shoes.
• If a bee approaches you, gently brush them away. Or, you can just wait for them to wander away on their own.
• Avoid drinking from open soda cans. Bees love soft drinks or any sugary drink.
• Having a party? Keep tight lids on your food and any garbage cans.
• If you’re doing yard work, wear socks, shoes, and gloves. Also, even if it’s hot outside, wear long sleeves and pants. You never know where a bee might be hiding.
• When you plan to be outside, avoid wearing perfume. It attracts bugs, especially bees.
• Make sure all open doors and windows have screens in them.
• Keep car windows closed.
• Avoid wearing bright colors outside. They can attract bees, too!
If you’re still curious, there is a lot of information about bee allergies, symptoms, testing, and treatment on this page at AllerVie.com, this article on mayoclinic.com and this article on WebMD.com.
Of course, we always welcome you to contact us directly with your questions.
Have a safe and happy summer!