Allergic Diseases, S.C.
Steven H. Cohen, M.D.

Call Now (414) 545-1111  

Stinging Insect Allergy

Here in Southeastern Wisconsin the most common stinging insects are honeybees and vespids, a family that includes wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets

A typical reaction to an insect sting is pain and swelling. The swelling can be quite severe, and can even involve an entire arm or leg. Even at this level, the swelling is generally not an allergic reaction.

When an insect sting causes an allergic reaction, there are other components to the reaction which occur within a short time of exposure. Whole-body, or “systemic” allergic reactions to insect stings are very serious, and can include reactions leading to anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms include:

• Itching and hives all over the body

• Swelling in the throat or tongue

• Difficulty breathing

• Dizziness

• Stomach Cramps

• Nausea

• Diarrhea

• In severe cases, a rapid fall in blood pressure may result in shock and loss of consciousness

If you or someone you know develops any of these symptoms after an insect sting, it is considered a medical emergency, and you should dial 911. If you have been diagnosed with a stinging insect allergy and have an epinephrine autoinjector (such as EPIPEN), you should use it immediately if you develop any of the listed symptoms, and you should head to an emergency treatment center since the reaction may progress.

Treatment for stinging insect allergy

Once testing is done and a diagnosis of stinging insect allergy has been made, it is very important that you treat it. Venom immunotherapy – venom allergy shots – are 95% effective in preventing another systemic reaction. We will also give you a self-injectable epinephrine pen and shown how to use it if needed to treat a reaction "in the field."

     11121 W. Oklahoma Avenue    Milwaukee, WI 53227    Tel: 414.545.1111