Take critical steps to an allergic reaction to a bee sting

Bees are the source of many things that help us and that we enjoy – among them, pollination, more flowers, and honey. Bees can also bring us stings, and for many people, allergic reactions. Bad reactions, rashes, and the fear of anaphylaxis – the severe allergic reaction that causes throat swelling, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death – can all be prevented and managed by taking appropriate steps and knowing what to do when stung.


Do

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  • know your allergies
  • carry an epinephrine auto-injector and know how to use it
  • have an antihistamine available
  • remove the stinger and clean the wound
Don't

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  • run or panic
  • start a campaign of total bee annihilation
  • ignore mild symptoms or reactions; the next bee sting could be worse
  • let them get the best of you

Justin C Young‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do know your allergies

Whether you are allergic to bees, foods, or medications, knowledge is power and prevents unfortunate episodes from happening in the first place. Avoid other stinging insects, as similar reactions can occur with them, too. If you have a bad reaction, develop throat closing, tongue swelling, or rash, seek medical attention immediately.

Do carry an epinephrine auto-injector and know how to use it

A dose of epinephrine (0.3mg for adults, 0.15mg for children) can mean the difference between life and death. When given early, it can buy you time and even stop the body’s immune response and an adverse reaction from happening. Practice injectors are available for free and can be discussed with your regular health care provider. Injectors, like Epi-Pens, are opened, applied to the outer thigh, and automatically administer the appropriate dose with a small amount of pressure. After injection, seek follow up care with a medical professional at an urgent care center or other medical facility to make sure the reaction has stopped. Make sure your injector has not expired, others know where you keep it, and how to use it if you are unable to use it on yourself.

Do have an antihistamine available

A dose of an antihistamine (like Benadryl) will help prevent symptoms and suppress the itching and rash that may develop from bee stings. Another type of antihistamine to consider is the anti-reflux medication ranitidine (Zantac,) that in some instances is taken twice daily for a few days to prevent a rebound allergic reaction and gives your body time to rid itself of the particular allergen and recover.

Do remove the stinger and clean the wound

Use a straight edged item like a credit card to remove a stinger by swiping side to side across the surface of the sting. Clean the area with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment. This helps prevent an infection that sometimes occurs with tissue destruction, inflammatory reactions, and breakdown of the skin and underlying tissue, especially if one scratches an itching bee sting.


Justin C Young‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not run or panic

Calmly get away from the bees. The last thing you need is an additional injury from a fall trying to escape a single bee. There is no need to flip tables, scream, yell, or swat at the insects. It’s likely that other people may find that disruptive, but it may also provoke more aggressive behavior from the bees and attract more.

Do not start a campaign of total bee annihilation

Bees do great things for the environment and are an important ally in the reproductive process for plants across the globe. Also, honey is a delicious and healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners. Try it in your next cup of coffee or tea!

Do not ignore mild symptoms or reactions; the next bee sting could be worse

It’s important to note that even though your first sting only caused localized swelling, the next may lead to worsening rash or even anaphylaxis. Discuss any reaction with your doctor and consider carrying an Epi-Pen.

Do not let them get the best of you

Eliminating bees from your home will help to limit your exposure when you’re enjoying your backyard. Remove beehives, nests, or homes of other stinging insects with the help of an exterminator. A professional can also humanely transfer the insects without killing them or using chemicals that may be harmful to family and pets.


Summary

It’s easy for us to coexist with bees. They are not something to be feared, and neither is an allergy! With careful preparation and an allergy plan in place, you will have no problems getting over a bee sting.

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