Common Insect Allergies
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It is estimated that about two million people in America are allergic to insect stings. Most common allergic reactions occur to wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, bees, red or black fire ants and mosquitos. With the exception of fire ants, these insects are found throughout the United States. Fire ants are currently only in the Southeastern United States, although they are spreading quickly. The majority of people will have a reaction to stings or bites from these pests. Most stings occur during the summer or fall months.
Common reactions are generally limited to histamine release at the site of the bite or sting resulting in localized swelling. These reactions are not considered to be allergic and local care is all that is required. Discomfort can be alleviated by washing of the site along with careful removal of the stinger if one has been left behind. Following this local antihistamine creams or ointments can be applied along with an ice pack. Occasionally secondary infection may need to be treated by antibiotics.
More severe reactions are considered allergic. There are more than 500,000 emergency room visits reported every year as a result of insect bites and stings. On average, 40 people per year die from anaphylactic shock reaction to insect allergies. Anaphylactic shock is a severe reaction comprised of dizziness, a sharp drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and finally cardiac arrest. People who have known allergies to insect stings are strongly advised to carry epinephrine with them as an emergency treatment. The most common forms of portable epinephrine are the EpiPen and Twinject. These are available by prescription and need to be monitored by a qualified doctor. Less severe allergic reactions include hives, itching, swelling in areas other than the site of the bite, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, hoarseness and swelling of the tongue. Unfortunately, people have a 60% chance of having a similar or worse reaction the second time they are stung. Therefore, your second exposure can quite possibly be more severe and may even be life threatening. Reactions generally occur within minutes of the sting or bite however it can take up to 24 hours for symptoms to fully develop.
There are a few steps that can be taken to avoid insect stings. These include:
- Use of an insect repellant
- Avoid wearing bright colors. Insects get their food from flowers and other brightly colored plants. Wearing khaki, green, tan or other light colored, neutral clothing does not attract them as much as brighter and darker hues.
- When eating outdoors, keep food covered. Don’t drink out of an open soda can that has been left sitting out as insects will often climb into the can and will sting you when you take a drink.
- Avoid strong scented or sweetly scented perfumes, aftershaves, colognes, hair sprays etc. These scents often mimic the scents that flowers put out to attract insects.
- Wear clean clothing and maintain good hygiene. For some reason, sweat seems to aggravate bees.
- Cover as much of the body as possible.
- Don’t swat at the insect, rather remain calm and walk away. If you are driving, pull over and open the windows to allow the insect to escape.
- Locate and have professionals remove insect nests in the spring.
Taking these steps to avoid exposure to insects is an important first step in avoiding stings and the allergies associated with them. If you are stung or bitten, obtain immediate medical attention and continue to take steps in the future to avoid repeat exposure.
The more common variety of insects that either painfully bite or sting, along with inflicting allergies and reactions to people suffering from the effects of such aggression, are --
- Fire Ants
To impart the natural mechanisms that support the aggression from these indicated insects are brought about by cause and effect. Cause can be identified through the onset of an insect becoming agitated. Upon agitation the insect reacts by defending itself which serves as the effect. It is the post-trauma from the assault that launches the degree or severity of the reaction in an innocent person who is afflicted with allergies to bites and stings from these insects. Another “cause and effect” scenario that fuels insects’ quest to bite or sting people is the instinct to feed off their victims.
There is a common belief that bees, fire ants, hornets and wasps only sting when they attack. However, among this group of insects, it is the wasp that possesses the capability of both stinging and biting at the same time.
Reactions to the stings or bites endured by the allergic-affected occur by way of formic acid. People who are stung or bitten may not know that the insect injects formic acid into their skin. It is this very acid that is the culprit, in posing risks to susceptible individuals.
Ultimately, the most dangerous risk that looms for anyone being allergic to stings or bites associated with the invasive infiltration of formic acid is in an anaphylaxis reaction. In correlation to this health hazard are the topical reactions to the skin, which present ailments of redness and swelling to the affected areas.
Let’s set a simple stage, as to where a purely simple situation can evolve into a near life-threatening situation. You step out onto your patio to enjoy a glass of iced tea and the warmth of the late morning sun. Logically, the patio is adjacent to your yard. Suddenly, as you are sipping your beverage, a bee flies about your face and the glass. By process of normal instinct, you swat at the buzzing bee, in order to drive it away. The bee, which may have been attracted to the you by a fragrance from a product that your were wearing, or, due to the presence of such beverage, regards being swatted at as a attack. Thus, if the bee’s determination evolves into enough anger to become agitated, it, potentially, will sting you -- and you just happen to be allergic to bee stings. Now, the window for skin irritation, as well as a life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction, is open. Having just presented what could well be a real-life medical concern, it is time to focus upon the anatomies of such allergy and reaction, to include symptoms and treatment(s).
The immune system of people afflicted with an allergy, such as that of bee stings, is compromised by way of a disorder. An allergic reaction is the result of an environmentally-related substance which is referred to as allergens. Reactions are acquired and are predictable, with a rapid progression. Allergies are among one of four variations of hypersensitivity. Biologically a portion of the white cells, along with basophils that are affected by an antibody classified as lgE, engage into creating an intensified inflammatory response. This response is the direct result to the venom with its composition being of the earlier mentioned formic acid. Scenarios are identical for venomous stinging insects, to include the hornet, wasp, and, again, the common bee.
Presenting symptoms brought about by the bite or sting of the referenced insects would include itchiness, redness, soreness and swelling of the skin surrounding the actual area where the sting or bite occurred. Of vital significance is the presentation of the major symptom -- Anaphylaxis -- which, if not medically treated in a pro-active matter, can lead to life-threatening conditions or fatal consequence. Other symptoms can include abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Those of a more advanced nature have symptoms such as respiratory distress; encephalitis; fainting; unconsciousness; hives; flushed appearance; swelling of the face, lips, neck and throat; stress-related tears and anxiety.
To describe Anaphylaxis in its direct relevance to allergic reactions is to define what could be referred to as two variations -- acute systemic and hypersensitivity allergic reaction. If Anaphylaxis were to be presented in stages, where insect sting or bite is the cause, the first would be upon bodily contact with the allergen, e.g. venom, formic acid. When minute quantities of allergens are present within the bodies of insect allergy-afflicted people a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction presents itself as the second stage. Should this dangerous condition accelerate, as the onset of time frame is limited to minutes, the most severe stage of Anaphylaxis -- Anaphylactic Shock -- becomes present. Severity is due to the allergic reaction setting off a rapid and sizeable release of histamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are classified as immunological mediators. Further and subsequent risks take place as these mediators are released by creating an alteration to blood vessels complicated by a quick decrease in blood pressure. The onset of edema, bronchial constriction and difficulty in breathing, adds to the list of symptoms accompanying Anaphylactic Shock. If the acceleration of this health-hazardous condition is not treated aggressively and within a very short span of time the risk of a fatal outcome is a stark and somber reality.
The sole course of remedy for Anaphylaxis and/or Anaphylactic Shock, resulting from an allergic reaction, medical treatment is based upon the medical emergency. Immediate and aggressive treatment generally consists of some the following procedures --
- First Aid, as necessary, consisting of CPR
- Administration of epinephrine, as adrenaline
- Repeated doses of epinephrine, by intramuscular injection, as appropriate
- Antihistamines, such as chlorphenamine or diphenhydramine
- Steroids, to include hydrocortisone or dexamethasone
- IV fluids
- Pressor agents, as dopamine
- Administration of oxygen, and, if deemed, intubation
A highly recommended precaution, in both decreasing severity of allergic reactions and to broaden the time window for medical treatment for those people with significant allergic reactions to such environmental elements, is to consult with their doctor or allergy specialist about severity prevention options. Planning and preparing towards ensuring, pro-active methods with your health care professional can ease the threat of allergy-related risks, while allowing the allergy-afflicted to live a healthy -- and less worrisome -- lifestyle.
Disclaimer: The allergy information on this website is strictly general information and should not be taken as official advice. Please schedule an appointment with an allergy doctor in order to get a proper and full allergy diagnosis.
This article was developed by Utah Allergy Associates of Utah and Adaptivity Pro SEO Services