Bugs Bee Gone
people dependant on Claritin- and Zyrtek-type medications avoid pollen
like the plague, others contend with air and land attacks by insects.
Allergic reactions are caused by a vast array of factors, and bug bites
are a prime source.
Jewish Medical and Research Center reported that more than 1 million
Americans report allergic reactions to insect stings and about 50 die
each year from those stings. Reactions to stings fall into two
categories: immediate and delayed. Immediate reactions occur within
four hours of the sting, and delayed reactions may occur well after
Three types of immediate reactions were identified. They are:
- Normal reaction: localized pain, swelling and skin redness at the sting site for several hours.
- Large local reaction:
large area of swelling around sting site. It may be accompanied by a
low fever, mild nausea, malaise and fatigue. Treatment for patients
without a history of sting sensitivity includes aspirin for pain and
ice to reduce swelling. Treatment for those with a history involves
taking a non-sedating antihistamine.
the most dreaded reaction. During anaphylaxis, multiple organ systems
will be affected, and usually within minutes of the sting. Flushing,
itching, hives, swelling, sneezing, runny nose, throat swelling,
difficulty breathing, nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea
are all common signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.
It is advised
that people with a history of sting sensitivity wear a bracelet
identifying their sensitivity to insect stings. They also should learn
to administer their own epinephrine and keep it and antihistamines
available at all times. They should alert 911 immediately after
epinephrine and antihistamines are injected.
reactions, while usually occurring after four hours of a sting, have
been known to show up a week afterwards with reports of hives, fever,
malaise and joint pain. With subsequent stings, patients are at risk
for anaphylaxis and may be candidates for venom immunotherapy, which
consists of shots for allergies to insect venom.
Ann Mullen, a
patient education expert at the National Jewish Medical and Research
Center, suggested these tips for preventing insect bites and protecting
against reactions to possible bites:
- Wear long pants when hiking or mowing the grass, gloves when gardening, and shoes or sandals instead of bare feet.
- Wear white or light-colored clothes. Dark clothes and flowery designs attract insects.
unscented deodorant, rinse off perspiration, avoid strong perfumes,
cologne, hair oil, hair spray or lotions, and keep insect repellants
and insecticide available.
- Cover food and drinks outdoors and cover garbage as well.
with a history of reactions should wear a medical alert bracelet or
necklace stating that you are allergic to insect stings, and carry an
emergency pack with contents specified by your doctor.
Address: National Jewish Medical and Research Center, P.O. Box 5898, Denver, CO 80206; 1(800)-222-LUNG, www.nationaljewish.org.