You've probably heard stories about someone who is allergic to bee stings and had a severe reaction when stung. That might make you fearful of bees and wonder if an ordinary response to a sting might be an allergic reaction. Some people have a worse response than others when stung by a bee, but even if you have redness and swelling, it doesn't necessarily mean it's an allergic reaction. Here's how to tell an ordinary response from an allergic response and what to do if you have an allergy to bee stings.
Ordinary Effects Of A Bee Sting
Bee stings can be very painful. You'll notice you've been stung right away due to the pain. When a bee stings you, it injects venom under the skin. The venom causes a reaction in your body that leads to redness and swelling. If you have a mild reaction, you'll have localized swelling and a small amount of redness which will clear up in a few hours. If you have a more severe reaction, it may take days for the swelling and redness to go away. The area may be hot and painful. The swelling may even spread far from the site of the sting. For instance, your entire hand may swell or the swelling may travel up your leg. However, this isn't necessarily an allergic reaction, which includes other symptoms and is much more serious.
An Allergic Response
If you have an allergy to bee stings, your body responds differently. There will still be swelling and redness in the area, but you'll also have other symptoms, and they'll come on quickly. You may have swelling in your throat or tongue that make swallowing and breathing difficult. You might start wheezing. You could become pale, dizzy, and develop hives all over your body. These symptoms require immediate medical help, so you should call 911 and get to a hospital right away. A severe allergic reaction is called anaphylactic shock, and it is life threatening.
Predicting Your Response
You may not react the same way to a bee sting each time. One time you may barely have any swelling and the next time you could have an allergic reaction. That's why you want to be careful around bees. You can't predict when a sting will send you to the emergency room. Once you've had an allergic reaction, your doctor may want you to carry an epinephrine pen on you at all times so you can inject yourself with the drug as soon as you're stung. This delays the onset of serious allergy symptoms until you can get further medical help.
Treatment For A Bee Sting Allergy
Since bee sting allergies can be so dangerous, your doctor may want you to see an allergist and undergo immunotherapy to build up your tolerance to the stings. An allergist can test you for allergies to a variety of stinging insects and then give you allergy shots over a period of several months or a few years to gradually build up tolerance to the venom. Then, if you ever get stung again, your allergic reaction shouldn't be so severe.
A normal reaction to a bee sting doesn't require a visit to your doctor, but if you're one of the rare cases that has an allergic reaction, then you want to seek medical help right away and not delay. An allergic response is sudden, so if you delay, your condition can quickly get worse and be more difficult to treat. For more information, check out sites like http://www.oakbrookallergists.com.