Summertime Woes: Bee Sting Allergies
Research shows that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, ranging in severity from an itchy mouth to anaphylaxis. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction. There’s good reason for peanut bans in the classroom, as 1 in 13 children is affected.
But, what happens when your child has a hidden allergy?
Nearly everyone has been stung by an insect at one time or another. It’s an unpleasant experience that people hope not to repeat, but for most people the damage inflicted is only temporary pain. Only a very limited portion of the population—one to two people out of 1,000—is allergic or hypersensitive to bee or wasp stings.
I am one of those people! Hopefully, with a little bit of information, I can spare other parents the terrifying experience my parents went through with me. I mean, who ever thinks they’d be deathly allergic to a stupid bee?
Now, before we all run out and bang on the pediatricians door demanding an Epi-Pen, let’s do some deep breathing and learn some facts.
The easiest way to avoid stings altogether is by creating an environment unwelcoming to the little buggers. You can still enjoy your summer!
- Use caution when eating and drinking outside, especially with soda cans because gulping a mouthful of bee is no fun.
- Be aware of areas which may contain bee nests, including bushes and dry logs.
- Keep outdoor garbage and recycling cans tightly covered and clean.
- Don’t walk barefoot in areas with tall grass.
- Avoid wearing bright colors.
- Avoid heavily scented perfumes or deodorants.
- Teach children not to “bug” the bees, most wood bees or honey bees are job-oriented and aren’t going to dive bomb you, unless you start swatting them around. Wasps, well, they’re jerks. Know the difference.
Most bites and stings are minor and can be treated at home. But you should seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:
Some people can experience anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. This is a medical emergency that warrants calling 9-1-1 immediately.
Signs of an allergic reaction, which may occur within seconds to minutes, include sneezing, wheezing, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden anxiety, dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and itching or swelling of the eyes, lips, or other areas of the face.
If your child has ever had an allergic reaction to a sting or bite, they should be evaluated by an allergist. In some cases, they may be advised to wear a medical identification tag that states the allergy, and to carry epinephrine (an Epi-Pen or Epi-Pen Jr.) a medication used to treat serious or life-threatening allergic reactions.
If you or your child DOES get stung, it’s best to scrape a stinger away in a side-to-side motion with a straight-edged object like a credit card. Don’t use tweezers because it may push more venom into the skin. After removing a stinger, wash the area with soap and water. You can apply ice or another cold compress to help reduce swelling.
And remember kids, I’m not a doctor; I just play one on the interwebs.