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The Insect Sting Allergy Symptoms

Most insect stings cause some pain and swelling in the area of the sting, called a local reaction. People who are allergic to bee stings or who have been stung many times may react more dramatically.

A severe local reaction may lead to pain and swelling that increase over the next few hours and becoming very uncomfortable. This does not constitute an anaphylactic reaction. The reaction must involve at least 2 of your body’s organ systems (such as lungs and heart) to qualify as an anaphylactic reaction.

Although most local reactions are not serious, if they are near the face or neck, swelling can quickly block the airway and cause serious problems. Fire ant stings cause a reaction in almost everyone. Itchy hives usually form at the site immediately and recede within an hour.

A small blister forms at each site within 4 hours. Within 8-24 hours, a small sore with pus forms at each sting site. The area around the sores may feel burning and itchy. The pus does not mean the sore is infected.

The sores rupture within 72 hours. The itching, pain, and redness may last for several days but should improve gradually. Worsening redness, pain, swelling, and warmth may signal an infection at the site. If this occurs, see your health care provider right away.

Symptoms over the entire body are always a concern because they may signal an anaphylactic reaction. If these reactions progress, they may lead to death, sometimes within a matter of minutes. These reactions may include the following. Hives (swollen bumps on the skin) and significant swelling over major body parts – face, head, neck, arms/hands, legs/feet

Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or the feeling that the throat is closing, dizziness or fainting, chest pain or racing heartbeat, and nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The dizziness and fainting are due to a dangerously low blood pressure. This condition is known as shock, and anaphylaxis is often called anaphylactic shock.

Mild localized itching, swelling, or discomfort requires a call your health care provider for advice. Worsening of local symptoms over a few days may be evidence of infection at the sting site. Pain, increased swelling and redness, and warmth suggest an infection. Call your health care provider for an appointment the same day.

If you had a reaction in the past, even if you used an epinephrine injection kit for this sting, go immediately to your medical office or hospital emergency department, whichever is closer. Even if you have treated yourself, you still need to be evaluated to make sure that your symptoms are resolving and are not recurring.

Hives or rash or swelling all over your body, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or dizziness or fainting suggest an anaphylactic reaction and require immediate medical attention. If you have these severe symptoms or symptoms over your entire body, you should go to a hospital emergency department.

Do not drive yourself to the hospital. If no one is available to drive you right away, call 911 for emergency medical transport. If you are able, tell the dispatcher that you are having a reaction to a sting. While waiting for the ambulance, take self-treatment measures.

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