Insect Allergy Treatment in Charlotte
Insect allergies can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition for many individuals. Even mild symptoms, such as hives or swelling, can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily life. At Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center, we understand the impact that insect allergies can have on your lifestyle and well-being, and we are committed to providing comprehensive care to help manage and treat this condition.
Our team of board-certified allergists and experienced healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing personalized treatment plans and ongoing support to help you live your life to the fullest. Whether you are seeking a diagnosis, treatment, or ongoing management of your insect allergies, we are here to help you every step of the way.
How to Request an Appointment
At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment for insect allergies. If you suspect you may have an insect allergy or have experienced abnormal symptoms after being stung by an insect, you can request an appointment with our team of board-certified allergists and experienced healthcare professionals.
To schedule an appointment, you can call our office or fill out the online appointment request form on our website. Our friendly staff will work with you to find a convenient date and time for your visit.
During your appointment, our allergists will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and conduct any necessary tests to determine if you have an insect allergy. Based on your evaluation, our team will develop a personalized treatment plan to help manage your symptoms and prevent future allergic reactions.
What are Stinging Insect Allergies?
Each year millions of Americans are stung by bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. These insects, members of the Hymenoptera family, inject venom into their victims when they sting. The usual, non-allergic reaction to a sting lasts only a few hours, resulting in redness, swelling, localized pain and itching at the site of the sting. These symptoms should resolve rapidly. Occasionally reactions can become more symptomatic, a condition called a large local reaction. This type of reaction may persist for several days, but it is not an allergic reaction.
A small percentage of people have allergies to these venoms, and such stings may be life-threatening. Approximately two million Americans are severely allergic to the venom of stinging insects. Severe allergy occurs when the victim’s immune system produces too much of a special type of antibody, called IgE, against the injected venom. Why only some people produce excessive amounts of IgE antibody remains unknown.
What are the Symptoms of Insect Allergies?
Allergic reactions to insect stings can involve many organ systems of the body and develop rapidly after the insect strikes. Symptoms may include nausea, dizziness, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, as well as more common allergy symptoms: itching and hives over large areas of the body, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing. In severe cases, a sharp fall in blood pressure may result in shock and loss of consciousness. The medical term for such a serious reaction is anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic reactions may be fatal without prompt emergency medical treatment.
Preventing Insect Stings
Hymen-optera-sensitive patients should take measures to avoid being stung. Calm, quiet behavior without sudden movement or waving of the arms when in the presence of these insects often prevents trouble. Precautions that can be taken at home include:
- Taking caution when cooking, eating, or even feeding pets outdoors
- Keeping food covered until eaten
- Cleaning and covering trash areas
- Using insecticide sprays to keep insects away
- Watching for nests in trees, vines, shrubs, wood piles, under the eaves of the home, and in other protected places
- Using hedge clippers, power mowers, and tractors with caution
- Hiring a trained exterminator to destroy hives and nests around your home without the insect-allergic person present
Additionally, there are certain personal methods of prevention that should be taken by an insect-allergic person:
- Avoiding perfume, scented hair spray, scented suntan lotion, and other cosmetics
- Wearing closed-toe shoes outdoors
- Avoiding loose-fitting garments that can trap insects between material and skin, as well as bright colors and flowery prints
- Keeping an insecticide aerosol in the glove compartment of their car in case a stinging insect becomes trapped inside
For long-term prevention and treatment, persons who are severely allergic to the venom of stinging insects can be treated with venom immunotherapy. Allergists use immunotherapy to administer gradually stronger doses of venom that stimulate the patient’s immune system to become increasingly resistant to future insect stings. Once the patient receives the highest dose of venom, they will have protection against future severe reactions.
Insect Allergy Testing in Charlotte
Any person who has had a serious adverse reaction to an insect sting should be evaluated by an allergist. The allergist may recommend testing and, if appropriate, treatment and avoidance measures.
Allergy skin tests are the standard method to identify stinging insect allergies, including those of wasp and bee allergies. In order to perform a skin test, venom extracted from a particular type of insect is diluted and placed on a patient’s skin for about 20 minutes. The doctor will then interpret the results. Based on the history and test results our doctors can then provide treatment and guidance to help make sure that this is managed properly. A course of immunotherapy injections may be prescribed. These have an extremely high success rate and are almost always curative.
Insect allergy blood tests are occasionally performed to either safely test people with severe reactions to insect venom or in situations where a standard skin test may not have provided conclusive results. Skin tests are the “gold standard” for evaluating people who are allergic to insect stings but on occasion for reasons that are not understood the test is only positive in the blood. People who are allergic to insect stings carry an allergy antibody called IgE that recognizes a specific insect and triggers a reaction subsequently when stung.
What to do When you are Experiencing an Allergic Reaction to an Insect Sting
When a sting occurs, the insect-allergic patient may require assistance in receiving prompt emergency treatment. Removal of the stinger from the skin immediately after the sting may prevent some harmful effects of the venom.
Among Hymenoptera species, only the honeybee leaves her stinger (with venom sac attached) in the skin of its victim. Because it takes several minutes for the venom sac to inject all of the venom, instantaneous removal of the stinger and sac will limit the amount of venom received. A quick scrape of the fingernail removes the stinger and sac. Avoid squeezing the sac, as this forces more venom through the stinger and into the skin. Hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants don’t leave their stingers. They should be brushed from the victim’s skin promptly with deliberate movements to prevent additional stings.
The victim should quietly and immediately leave the area. If an allergic reaction persists or is severe, medical professionals should be contacted.
At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we are dedicated to providing compassionate care and ongoing support to help you live your life to the fullest. Contact us today to request an appointment and take the first step towards managing your insect allergies.
Insect Allergy FAQs
What are some of the signs of an allergic reaction to a bite or sting?
If a person has a wasp allergy, bee allergy, or another stinging insect allergy, they will exhibit clear signs that develop soon after a sting has taken place. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Hives or swelling that appears on the skin on a part of the body separate from the sting site – if this occurs, it usually begins within a few minutes of the sting, but on rare occasions it may take up to an hour to start
- Swelling at the site of the sting is abnormal if it crosses two large joints
Other non-visual adverse reactions may take place soon after a sting that can be dangerous or even deadly in severe situations, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or constriction in the throat
- Rapid and weak pulse
- Drop in blood pressure
- Uterine cramping
Can an insect bite cause an allergy?
Typically, insect bites just result in mild symptoms, such as itchiness around the bite. But if an insect bite leads to throat swelling, dizziness or nausea, seek emergency treatment for an allergy.
Is it possible to be allergic to wasps but not bees?
Typically, people are allergic to one or the other. It is possible, however, to be allergic to both. An allergy test can tell you for sure.
How long does it take to have an allergic reaction to a stinging insect?
Allergic reactions typically begin within a few minutes of the sting. Act quickly if you have an allergy to stinging insects and have been stung. Call 911 and administer an EpiPen if you have one. Rarely, an allergic reaction will take up to an hour.