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Stinging Insect Allergies – Understanding a Normal Reaction

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Typically, a person is diagnosed with an insect sting allergy during childhood. However, diagnosing the allergy during childhood is not an easy process. There are a number of tests done to diagnose and confirm an insect allergy in both children and adults and taking the time to understand these tests and their value is extremely important. 

It is important to note that very few people are allergic to insect stings. Everyone reacts to a sting from an insect and an allergic reaction is a completely different occurrence. By understanding what a normal reaction to an insect sting is, and what an allergic reaction to an insect sting is, you will save yourself a great deal of worry. If you are worried about the potential for your child developing a stinging insect allergy Plainfield IL, you should understand the following statistics, and consult an allergist for testing. 


  • Each year, thousands of people are seen in the emergency room for an insect sting.
  • Life threatening allergic reactions to insect stings only occur in 0.4 to 0.8% of children.
  • Life threatening allergic reactions to insect stings only occur in 3% of adults.
  • Annually, insect stings are responsible for 90 – 100 deaths.
  • Deaths from insect stings are caused by anaphylaxis or closing of the air way in reaction to the sting.

While there are a large number of insects capable of stinging, there are some insects that are more likely to sting, and more likely to cause an allergic reaction. These insects are: 


  • Wasps
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Hornets
  • Honeybees
  • Fire ants

While these are not the only insects stings a person can be allergic to, they are the primary reasons for concern, mostly because they are more likely to sting than other insects. 

Symptoms of Stinging Insect Allergies 

The reaction a person has to an insect sting will vary, not just from person to person, but from one insect to another. Even within the same species, individual insects carry a varying amount of venom. 

What You Can Expect from a Small Local Reaction 

With any insect sting, you can expect a moderate amount of pain, swelling in the immediate area, and different degrees of redness. These symptoms should be confined to the immediate area around the insect sting. You can reduce these symptoms by washing the area with a disinfectant soap and plenty of water. After cleaning the area, you should apply ice to reduce the amount of swelling. 

What You Can Expect from A Large Local Reaction 

A reaction that is considered a large reaction can result in a large area of swelling. For example, being stung on the arm, may cause a substantial amount of swelling in the entire arm, instead of just around the insect bite. The amount of swelling may be concerning, but it can be treated the same as you would treat a small reaction to a sting. 

A large local reaction that is extremely painful may need medical attention and prescription medication to control the pain and reduce the body’s reaction to the sing. However, the treatment provided is typically limited to receiving a shot of antihistamines and a corticosteroid, which could be injected by your doctor, or prescribed for you to pick it up at the pharmacy.

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