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How to Treat a Reaction to a Bee Sting

written by: Rafael • edited by: lrohner • updated: 9/30/2010

Bee stings can happen anywhere, particularly in the outdoors. Know how to treat if someone allergicto bee sting. Learn what to do if a reaction is normal and what to do if a severe reaction occurs

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    A bee sting is something that may happen to anybody at any time, although they commonly happen outdoors during the warm summer months. Normally a bee sting will cause some discomfort, but reactions to it will depend on the particular sensitivity of the person. Normal reactions to bee stings may include redness, itching, and mild pain on the skin around the place where the sting occurred. Other non-life-threatening reactions may include hives, swelling, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and headaches. People with hypersensitivity or allergic to insect stings may experience more severe life-threatening reactions.

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    How to Treat if Someone Allergic To Bee Sting

    Normal non-life-threatening reactions can be easily treated with cold compresses and over-the–counter antihistamines. These antihistamines may come in creams or aerosol so you can apply them directly to the affected zone. These medications are quite effective in reducing the discomfort produced by bee stings. Normally, redness, itching and pain will disappear within 48 hours of a bee sting.

    A potentially life-threatening situation may occur in people allergic to bee stings or if a person receives multiple bee stings. A severe condition called anaphylaxis may occur in highly sensitive people. An anaphylatic schock may produce the death of the patient if not treated immediately. In anaphylaxis, blood pressure is reduced dramatically by the massive reaction to the bee venom. Broncospasm, swelling of the throat and lungs overfilled with liquid can cause respiratory arrest and death. Emergency treatment is required immediately if a sever reaction to a bee sting is suspected. A shot (or two) of adrenalin (Epinephrine) will immediately counteract the anaphylactic response to the bee venom.

    People who suspect they are allergic to bee stings should seek medical advice. Your doctor may prescribe you Epinephrine, or a sting kit, so you can have it on hand in case you are stung by a bee. Epinephrine is not available in an over-the-counter version.

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    Avoiding Bee Stings

    The best way to avoid the discomfort of having a bee sting is to prevent them. There are several things you can do:

    • Avoid using perfume, cologne, or scented soaps when outdoors. These may contain substances with similar scents to flowers that may attract bees. Remember that bees go to flowers to get nectar as a food source
    • Avoid using bright colored clothing. Certain colors attract bees.
    • Wear long sleeves, shirts and long pants when outdoors.
    • If you find a honeycomb or hive, stay away. Do not start to play with it and do not disturb the bees.
    • Use insect repellent to deter bees from the area you are in.
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    References

    Medical toxicology by Richard C. Dart (2004). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 3 rd edition.

    Allergy: your questions answered. By Helen E. Smith, Helen Smith, Anthony J. Frew, Alan Frew ( 2003 ). Elsevier Health Sciences

    Allergies By Jillian Powell (Feeling Ill Series) Evans Brothers, 2007

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