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 and may be life-threatening.
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.
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