-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- For most people, insect
stings are a painful annoyance, but they can be deadly for those
who are allergic to them, researchers warn.
Each year in the United States, more than half a million people
have to go to emergency departments after suffering insect stings,
and at least 50 die, according to the American College of Allergy,
Asthma and Immunology, which recently released updated guidelines
for diagnosing and treating people with hypersensitivity to insect
Its three key recommendations for people who are allergic to
Research indicates that allergy shots are effective in
preventing allergic reactions to stings. The shots work like a
vaccine, exposing recipients to increasing amounts of the stinging
insect allergen in order to boost the immune system's tolerance of
And although bumblebees are considered less aggressive than
hornets and wasps, a growing number of severe allergic reactions
are being caused by bumblebees, particularly among greenhouse
workers. Because of this, people should try to avoid bumblebees as
much as other stinging insects, the group advises.
In addition, the allergy experts noted, certain people are at
increased risk for serious allergic reactions to insect stings.
Factors associated with a higher risk include: a history of severe
or near-fatal reactions to insect stings; heart disease, high blood
pressure or pulmonary disease in those who have had a reaction
beyond the site of a sting; asthma; taking certain medications,
including beta blockers or ACE inhibitors; and frequent exposure to
stinging insects, such as among gardeners and beekeepers.
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to stings include:
Medical experts stress that anyone who has any of these symptoms
should seek immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about
bug bites and stings.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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