Bee Sting Allergies
Bee stings can produce reactions ranging from local swelling, redness and pain to a systemic reaction which can include hives, swelling away from the site of the sting, shortness of breath, or loss of consciousness. A systemic reaction is called Anaphylaxis. Wasps, honeybees, yellow jackets, and hornets can cause allergic reactions. Patients who have a history of a systemic reaction to bee stings are considered candidates for desensitization via Venom Immunotherapy (allergy shots). The evaluation includes blood (Immunocap) testing followed by skin testing if necessary. Venom Immunotherapy is considered 96% effective in preventing future systemic reactions to bee stings. Patients who suspect or have a known bee sting allergy need to carry diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and an epinephrine auto-injector (i.e. EpiPen or Auvi-Q). These medications are required to treat a severe life-threatening allergic reaction to a bee sting.
Medication or Drug Allergies
Medication reactions occur as a result of an immune response to a particular medication. Medications can produce a variety of immune responses leading to different types of reactions. One type of medication reaction is an allergic reaction which can cause symptoms including hives, swelling, shortness of breath and/or vomiting. Drug allergies can potentially be life threatening and need to be diagnosed correctly.
Penicillin allergy is the most common medication allergy; however, 80% of patients who report a penicillin allergy are actually not allergic. It is extremely important to have the correct diagnosis, as penicillins are one of the most effective and safest family of antibiotics. Patients who are misdiagnosed are often placed on other antibiotics that are less effective or have significant side effects. If you have a history of a suspected penicillin allergy, the doctors at Weiss Medical will perform a thorough history and if appropriate, perform penicillin skin testing in the office. This is often confirmed via a blood test called Immunocap testing. If testing for penicillin is negative, we will then have the patient undergo a cautious graded challenge to penicillin (or a derivative). This consists of exposing the patient to penicillin via increasing doses until a total of a full dose is received. Patients are examined and vital signs are checked every 15-20 minutes. The entire procedure typically is performed over 2 hours. A cautious graded drug challenge can also be performed to other types of medications, such as azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, acetaminophen, etc…
NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause a variety of reactions. NSAIDs include medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen ( aka Motrin or Advil), naproxen, and many more. People with an allergy to NSAIDs can present with an increase in their asthma symptoms, hives, swelling, or a severe allergic reaction. An allergy to NSAIDs is diagnosed based on history as there is no specific skin or laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis. Typically, if a patient is allergic to one NSAID, they need to avoid the entire family of NSAIDs.
There are two different types of latex sensitivities. The first is called a Type I or IgE mediated sensitivity and is believed to affect 6.5% of the general population. Health care workers or individuals with frequent exposure to latex are at increased risk. An IgE mediated latex allergy can present with a reaction ranging from just hives, respiratory distress or even anaphylaxis. Therefore it is extremely important to identify this allergy. Immunocap laboratory testing can be sent to determine if you have an allergy to latex. The second type of latex sensitivity is called a Delayed Type Hypersensitivity (DTH) or Type IV hypersensitivity reaction. This is a slow onset reaction, and is typically a reaction to the chemicals involved in the manufacturing process of latex, as opposed to the latex itself. It is also known as a Contact Dermatitis, and this type of latex sensitivity can be diagnosed via patch testing.