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Health Information For Parents
Insect stings usually are minor annoyances. But they can cause serious reactions in people who are allergic to them.
Insects that can trigger allergic reactions include honeybees, yellowjackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. When they sting, they inject venom into the skin.
Allergic reactions to stings usually don’t happen when a child is stung for the first time. Most happen when the child is stung for a second time, or even later.
If you think that your child might have had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, call your doctor. The doctor can help you understand the difference between what usually happens with an insect sting and what happens with an allergic reaction. If your child does have an allergy, the doctor will prescribe epinephrine auto injectors to use in case of a severe reaction.
When someone is allergic to insect stings, the body’s immune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in the insect’s venom. When stung, the body sees these proteins as harmful invaders.
The immune system responds by working very hard to fight off the invader. This causes an allergic reaction, in which chemicals like histamine are released in the body. This release can cause symptoms such as:
A serious allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis (an-eh-fil-AK-siss) can cause different symptoms at different times. A reaction is considered anaphylaxis if someone has:
Anaphylaxis can begin with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but these can quickly become worse. Anaphylaxis that’s not treated can be life-threatening. A person with anaphylaxis needs treatment with injectable epinephrine right away.
If your child has been diagnosed with an insect sting allergy, always keep two epinephrine auto-injectors on hand in case of a severe reaction. If your child starts having serious allergic symptoms, like throat swelling or trouble breathing:
An epinephrine auto-injector comes in a small, easy-to-carry container. It’s simple to use. Your doctor will show you how to use it. Kids who are old enough can be taught how to give themselves the injection.
Your doctor also might instruct you to give your child antihistamines in some cases. But always treat a serious reaction with epinephrine. Never use antihistamines instead of epinephrine in serious reactions.
Share emergency plans with anyone who cares for your child, including relatives and school officials. Together, agree on a plan in case of a serious reaction at school, including making sure that injectable epinephrine is available at all times. If your child is old enough to carry the epinephrine, it should be in a purse or backpack that’s with your child at all times, not in a locker. Also consider having your child wear a medical alert bracelet.
The best way to prevent allergic reactions to insect stings is to avoid getting stung in the first place. Teach your child to:
If your child is stung and a stinger remains in the skin, use your fingernail or a credit card to scrape the stinger from the skin. Removing the stinger quickly can help prevent more venom from going into the body. Don’t use tweezers because they can cause more venom to be released.
Talk with your doctor about whether your child should see an allergy specialist about getting allergy shots. These can help the body react less to insect venom, which can make a serious reaction less likely.
Most bug bites and stings are just annoying. But some can cause infections and allergic reactions. It’s important to know what to watch for, and when to get medical attention.
Although most allergic reactions aren’t serious, severe reactions can be life-threatening and can require immediate medical attention.
Being stung by a bug is often just irritating and doesn’t require medical treatment. But kids who are highly allergic to stings may need emergency medical care.
Many kids battle allergies year-round, and some can’t control their symptoms with medications. For them, allergy shots (or allergen immunotherapy) can help.
Being prepared for an allergy emergency will help you, your child, and other caregivers respond in the event of a serious reaction.
During an allergic reaction, your body’s immune system goes into overdrive. Find out more in this article for kids.
Fire ants think they’re hot stuff. Learn how to handle them in this article for kids.
Bee, or honeybee, is the word many people use to describe any flying insect that has wings and a stinger. Learn more about bees.
Your eyes itch, your nose is running, you’re sneezing, and you’re covered in hives. The enemy known as allergies has struck again.
Hives are red, itchy blotches that can appear because of an allergic reaction. Find out more in this article for kids.
Millions of Americans, including many kids, have an allergy. Find out how allergies are diagnosed and how to keep them under control.
Hives cause raised red bumps or welts on the skin. They’re pretty common and usually not serious. Find out what to do about hives in this article for teens.
A scratch or skin prick test is a common way doctors find out more about a person’s allergies.
Quick action is essential during a serious allergic reaction. It helps to remind yourself of action steps so they become second nature if there’s an emergency. Here’s what to do.
A person with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction can seem scary, but the good news is it can be treated.
Generally, insect bites and stings are harmless. Find out how to keep pests from ruining your fun.
Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The good news is that when treated properly, anaphylaxis can be managed.
Doctors use several different types of allergy tests, depending on what a person may be allergic to. Find out what to expect from allergy tests.
Keep the fun in summer by keeping your child safe in the sun, the water, and the great outdoors.
Want to avoid summer hazards so you can focus on the fun? This center offers tips for teens.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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