Stinging Insect Allergies: Get the Facts

Feb 22, 2023
Stinging Insect Allergies: Get the Facts
While it’s normal to have mild itching and swelling after an insect sting, having a severe reaction to it with symptoms like hives and/or dizziness may point to allergies. Here, we present the facts of stinging insect allergies.

Allergies happen when your body’s immune system reacts to a substance – such as pollen or dander – or food that doesn’t cause a reaction in others. Your immune system produces antibodies to fight off the allergen, even if it isn’t harmful. This, in turn, can cause mild symptoms like inflammation of the skin, airways, and digestive tract. 

A group of allergies that can cause anaphylaxis – a life-threatening allergic reaction – is from the venom of stinging insects like honey bees, hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, and fire ants. While most people have some type of mild reaction to an insect sting, if you’re allergic to them, the reaction can be much more severe and intense.

Chad W. Mayer, DO, FAAAAI, FAAP, and Ronda Barek-Nelson, MD, FACAAI, and our team at Allergy and Asthma Institute of SE Michigan present some more facts about stinging insect allergies here.

Symptoms of stinging insect allergies

Allergies to stinging insects can include some of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the face and throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Hives

All of these symptoms are signs of anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening condition. If you have any of these symptoms, be sure to take a trip to your nearest emergency room.

Diagnosing stinging insect allergies

To get a proper diagnosis for your allergies, our team reviews your medical history and provides a comprehensive exam. Your provider goes over your reaction and symptoms to an insect sting to confirm your allergies and perform some allergy testing.

Treating stinging insect allergies

When it comes to treating these types of allergies, there are few different routes you can go. 

First, our team reviews with you what insects to avoid and how to avoid them. We also recommend carrying at least two auto-injectors of epinephrine to counteract an allergic reaction. 

Finally, we also offer immunotherapy for stinging insect allergies. This method uses a series of venom shots in order to desensitize your immune system and lower the intensity of your allergic reactions.

The bottom line

Being stung by an insect like a wasp or honey bee can cause a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis in some people. This can cause symptoms like swelling, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If this happens to you, go to the closest emergency room.

Insect allergies are identified through allergy testing and treated with immunotherapy and epinephrine injections when necessary.

If you think you’re allergic to insect stings, contact our office located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, or book an appointment online with us today.