Atlanta Allergy & Asthma News

Stay Safe from Insect Stings This Summer

Updated on Thursday, July 7, 2016

For many of us, summer brings increased time outdoors and therefore increased exposure to insects. Everyone will react in some way to the venom of stinging insects, but it is estimated that as many as 13 million people in the U.S. may be at risk of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that spreads quickly through the body.

Allergists can perform testing for insect venom allergy as well as provide allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) for people that test positive for this type of allergy. Seeking treatment can prevent future reactions from occurring. The risk of a serious reaction to the sting drops from 40-45% in the untreated patient to nearly 2% once the venom allergy shots are underway. Initially the shots are weekly but after a few months patients will receive them once a month. For most patients they will be continued for up to 5 years.

All people with a history of anaphylaxis to insect sting should have emergency epinephrine injectors nearby. Epinephrine should be used as soon as a reaction starts and the person should then go to the ER or call 911 for emergency assistance. It is important to note that anyone who has experienced an allergic reaction to a sting in the past may have a similar or worse reaction if stung again. If you experience a significant allergic reaction of any kind, consult an Allergist as soon as possible.

Atlanta Allergy and Asthma provides complete allergy services for testing and treatment of insect sting and venom allergies. Contact the office nearest you if this is a health concern of yours or of a family member.