Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center


stinging insects


Many people are stung by insects each year and while most people are not allergic to the insect stings, about 5% of the U.S. population are at risk for developing a severe potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. 

A normal reaction to an insect sting varies from person to person and can result in pain, redness, itching and swelling. A large local reaction can result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site causing and arm or finger, for example, to swell twice its size.

An allergic reaction is the most serious reaction and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include hives, itching, and swelling in areas other than the sting site, hoarseness of voice, or swelling of the tongue. Anaphylaxis, an even more severe reaction, can occur within minutes after the sting and is life threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include tightness in the chest, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, and loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest. 

People who have experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 60% chance of a similar or worse reaction if stung again. 

Most insect stings in the U.S. come from honeybees, paper wasps, yellow jackets, yellow hornets, white-faced hornets and fireants. 

Our clinic provides a comprehensive evaluation based on history and allergy testing to find out which type of stinging insect caused the reaction. Venom Immunotherapy (allergy shots), is a highly effective treatment which can prevent future allergic reactions to the stinging insects.