Take precautions to avoid insect stings in the future. Avoid nests or hives of stinging insects. Do not wear bright clothing or perfumes that might attract bees and wasps.
Remain calm and quiet around flying insects. Move slowly. Take special care when around food or drinks outdoors, as at cookouts or picnics. Stinging insects are attracted to foods, especially sweet foods such as soft drinks. Evaluation by an allergist for desensitization injections has been shown to be of benefit. Obtain one or more epinephrine injection kits if this has been prescribed for you.
Keep the kit(s) in convenient locations and have one near you at all times. Read the instructions right away and review them often. It is important that you be able to get to the kit and use it quickly in case of a reaction.
Make sure your family members and closest friends know how to use the kit as well. Any time this device is used, you must go immediately afterward to your health care provider or to a hospital emergency department.
Prompt treatment usually avoids any short-term complications, but any delay in the treatment of a severe allergic reaction can result in rapid deterioration and death. The long-term outlook is usually good as well. Local infection at the sting site can occur but is rare. Arthritis, kidney failure, or nervous system disorders are late complications of a sting (weeks or possibly months later).
This is extremely rare. If you have joint pain or swelling, urinary problems, or unexplained numbness, tingling or burning sensation, or pain in the weeks after an insect sting, you should see your health care provider. If you develop anaphylactic shock following an insect sting, you are at an increased risk of developing anaphylaxis in the future if you are stung again. The top priority for the medical team is ensuring that your breathing and blood pressure are protected.
If you are having difficulty breathing, you may be given oxygen via a tube in your nose or by face mask. In cases of severe respiratory distress, you may be put on a mechanical ventilator. This is temporary until the effects of the reaction abate. If your blood pressure is too low, an IV line will be placed. You may be given saline solution through the IV to boost your blood pressure. You may be given medication if needed to ease your breathing and/or increase your blood pressure.
Most insect stings cause some pain and swelling in the area of the sting, called a local reaction. A severe local reaction may lead to pain and swelling that increase over the next few hours and becoming very uncomfortable. This does not constitute an anaphylactic reaction. The reaction must involve at least 2 of your body’s organ systems (such as lungs and heart) to qualify as an anaphylactic reaction.
Symptoms over the entire body are always a concern because they may signal an anaphylactic reaction. If these reactions progress, they may lead to death, sometimes within a matter of minutes. People who are allergic to bee stings or who have been stung many times may react more dramatically.