Insect (Sting) Allergy:

Stinging insects, which are responsible for the majority of cases of severe allergy (anaphylaxis) to insects, belong to the group of membranous winged insects, such as bees, ants and wasps, which often sting as a defensive response. Insect sting results in local symptoms in the majority of cases as a result of substances in the venom, which is released by the insect in the body of the stung person. In a small part of people, an allergic reaction may develop, such as severe allergy (anaphylaxis), which may be fatal.

Symptoms caused by sting can be divided into two types:

1. Local reaction:

In this type. symptoms appear in and around the location of the sting, and are usually mild and incidental. This type is of two categories:

  • a) Non-complicated local reaction: Where the sting location develops redness with painful swelling of an area up to 5 cm in diameter. This happens within a few minutes of the occurrence of the sting. The symptoms often disappear within hours, but it may last for a day or two. This type does not indicate the presence of an allergy and it is not life-threatening
  • b) Large local reaction: In about 10% of cases, the area of redness and painful swelling continues to widen for a day or two to 10 cm and then begins to improve gradually within 5-10 days. This is caused by an allergic reaction to the venom of the insect. These symptoms occur every time the person is stung, and may be severe and fatal in 2-10% of cases.

2- Severe reaction (anaphylaxis)

The effect extends beyond the location of the sting to several organs of the body, and varies from one person to another. It may include:

  • Swelling of the face, throat and tongue.
  • Rash and itching.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Colic, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Dizziness and hypotension.
  • This type of allergy requires an immediate medical intervention as it can be fatal.

Sever allergy to insect sting or bite does not increase the incidence of other allergies such as asthma, hay fever or allergies to any type of food or medicine. Severe reactions are more common among adults, while 70% of allergic reactions in children are local.

Prevention: Persons suffer insect allergy are advised to stay away from insects and avoid their attack triggers as follows:

  • 1. Avoid tampering with insect nests such as bees, and ask for an expert help to remove them.
  • 2. Avoid brightly colored clothing and perfumes that may attract insects when outdoors.
  • 3. Take caution when camping, and cover food and drinks, especially sweetened drinks that attract insects, such as juice and soda.
  • 4. Wear closed-toe shoes when outdoors and avoid loose clothing.

Persons who have anaphylaxis shall always have adrenaline autoinjector. In case of being stung, one shall take the injection immediately and go to the emergency department. Allergic persons shall be examined by an allergist to determine whether they need an immunotherapy to reduce the likelihood of future Anaphylaxis.

Immunotherapy: The person is injected with the same allergens (venoms), in very small quantities, every month to three months, and for a period from three to five years. This allows the body to be familiar with the venom, forming a natural immunity against it. The success rates of immunotherapy in protection from an allergic reaction is very high.