Bees look adorable when they fly around a garden full of beautiful flowers. However, many people are afraid of them. It is because bee sting can cause allergies for some people. In this article, I will discuss everything about the bee sting allergy, its symptoms, and how to treat it. You will also learn about allergy auto-injectors and the answer if animals can be allergic to bee venom.
Can you be allergic to bee stings? Yes, you can. Bee venom has proteins that affect the immune system causing it to produce an antibody called immunoglobulin. This antibody can cause inappropriate immune responses like swelling, respiratory problems, hives, and more.
Two Ways To Diagnose Bee Sting Allergy
For skin testing at an allergy clinic, bee venom as the allergen is injected into the skin of your upper back or arms. If a raised bump is developed on your skin, specifically at the test spot, this means you have a bee sting allergy. This test is safe and is designed to prevent serious allergic reactions. It is a more reliable method for diagnosing allergies since the allergen is directly injected in the skin.
A blood test can measure the response of your immune system to bee venom. It is done by measuring the number of antibodies in your bloodstream that causes an allergic reaction. In blood testing, a sample of your blood is delivered to a medical laboratory to be examined. Doctors will look for evidence of possible allergen sensitivity.
While blood testing for allergies is more expensive than skin testing, it allows individuals like expecting mothers, the elderly, and people who have severe skin conditions to undergo allergy diagnosis.
Is Bee Sting Allergy Hereditary?
Unlike most allergies, bee sting allergy is not hereditary. Even if one or both of your parents are allergic to bee stings, this doesn’t mean that you will also have the same form of allergy. Allergies develop when the immune system identifies a particular substance like food, pollen, animal dander, or insect venom as harmful. These substances are called allergens, which triggers the immune system cells to excrete chemicals like histamine that results in allergy symptoms.
Bee Sting Allergic Reactions
Hives or urticaria is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps on the skin. They most commonly causes itching, stinging, or burning and they can develop anywhere on your body. They may appear on your tongue, ears, lips, face, and throat that can cause difficulty in breathing.
An asthma allergy is the most common type of asthma. It comes with symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and difficulty in breathing. If your asthma is caused by an allergy, doctors may prescribe you with particular asthma inhalers to reduce the swelling of your airways.
Bee venom breaks down the protein that holds blood cells together which causes hypotension. Hypotension or low blood pressure is more noticeable in severe insect sting allergic reactions than in food allergic reactions. For older individuals, hypotension can make their allergic reactions to bee stings more dangerous. Hypotension can lead to death if not prevented. If there is not enough blood that flows to the blood vessels, particularly in the brain, this has a great possibility to lead to stroke.
A typical bee venom allergic reaction ranges from, a sharp burning pain instantly at the area of the sting and some swelling, which will then disappear within a few hours. The moderate reaction of bee sting allergy is extreme redness of the sting area and swelling that becomes larger within one to two days. These tend to go away between five to ten days.
Another symptom of bee venom allergy is nausea along with cold sweat. It happens because of the destruction of blood cells that results in hypotension.
Does Allergic Reaction To Bee Sting Worsen Over Time?
Allergic reactions to bee stings tend to get worse over time. Most people are not aware that they are allergic to bee venom until they experience the second sting that causes more severe allergic reaction than the previous one. Bee venom triggers a more dangerous immune system reaction that causes people who initially experience mild allergic reaction to experience worse the next time.
It is because the immune system produces immunoglobulin, which is a kind of an antibody that protects the body against threatening substances like parasites and viruses. In response to a bee sting, the body secretes this antibody that results in severe allergic reactions like swelling, hives, respiratory problems, and more.
Can Other Animals Be Allergic To Bee Venom?
Yes, animals like cats and dogs can be allergic to bee venom too. There are many compounds found in bee venom that can trigger the allergy of these animals. Just like humans, a bee sting can cause them pain, localized swelling, and life-threatening severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis. If they experience any of these after being stung by bees, bring them to a vet for treatment.
Here are the symptoms of bee sting allergies in Cats and Dogs:
- Facial Swelling
- Cold Limbs
- Difficulty Breathing
- Itching in muzzle, groin, and ears
- Paw biting
- Pale gums
- Runny nose
- Watery Eyes
Home Remedies For Mild Allergic Reaction
Apply a small amount of honey to the bee stings and cover it with a bandage. Leave it for one hour to relieve itching, pain, and heal the wound.
Honey has natural antibacterial agents that help to prevent skin infection and make healing faster. If you will apply honey on your skin, make sure that you are inside a closed environment where bees are not present. It is because the smell of honey can attract more bees.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Soak the affected area with apple cider vinegar or use a cloth or bandage to apply it, leave for a minimum of 15 minutes. The acidity of the vinegar helps to ease the pain and swelling as well as neutralize the toxins of bee stings.
Ice is one of the most effective and most accessible home remedies to relieve the mild allergic reactions of a bee sting. Apply a cold compress to the swollen area using an ice pack, or a frozen vegetables covered with cloth to get instant relief. Take note to do it for 20 minutes every hour.
Essential oils like pure lavender essential oil contain neutralizing properties that can help to relieve the pain of bee stings, reduce the swelling, and make you calm. Apply one drop directly to the affected area and repeat as needed.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is popular for its moisturizing and soothing effect on the skin. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce the swelling and prevent infection.
Basil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the irritation and swelling caused by bee sting allergy. Get a handful of basil leaves then pound them until it turns into a paste. Apply the paste on the sting then leave on for 30 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Bee Venom Anaphylaxis: Symptoms And Treatment
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to bee stings which needs emergency medical treatment. While there is only a small percentage of individuals who instantly develop anaphylaxis when they are stung by bees, it is important to know its symptoms and how to treat it.
- Difficulty in breathing
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Swelling of the tongue and throat
- Fainting or Dizziness
- Vomiting, Nausea, or Diarrhea
- Loss of consciousness
- Itching, hives, and pale skin or flushed
Above all, seek medical treatment as soon as possible when you experience one or more symptoms of anaphylaxis. While waiting for the arrival of emergency services, lay down on your back and keep your feet elevated. It can help to reduce dizziness and weakness by aiding blood flow to the heart.
Epinephrine is considered the most effective treatment for anaphylaxis which has to be given immediately. It is administered through syringe and auto-injector. Individuals who experienced this severe allergic reaction before are recommended to carry at least two epinephrine doses all the time. When experiencing anaphylaxis, seeking emergency medical treatment is a must, even if you get a shot of epinephrine. If you are allergic to epinephrine, cortisone, a steroid drug, and antihistamines like Benadryl and Allegra can calm your severe allergic reactions and prevent them from coming back.
If you want to prevent yourself from experiencing anaphylaxis again, reducing your sensitivity to allergens through desensitization immunotherapy can help. VIT or venom immunotherapy is a form of this treatment offered by allergy clinics and administered by specialist nurses and doctors. It can help with severe bee sting allergic reaction, and it includes a set of injections of doses of bee venom that gradually increases over three years. This treatment helps to develop tolerance to bee venom.
Bee Sting Allergy Auto-Injector
Epinephrine allergy auto-injector is one of the emergency treatments for severe allergic reactions. By acting on numerous receptors in the body, it can quickly reduce the body’s allergic response. It tightens the blood vessels to decrease swelling and increase blood pressure to counter hypotension. It also increases heart rate and contraction of the heart to reverse cardiovascular collapse.
Aside from that, epinephrine also stops the production of other allergic substances to discontinue the progression of the allergy. It also relaxes the muscles surrounding the lungs’ airways to keep it open.
Time Of Usage
Administer epinephrine auto-injector immediately the moment you experience a severe allergic reaction. An auto-injector is a combination of syringe and concealed needle that is portable and easy to carry. It makes the injection of medications like epinephrine faster and easier. These help to prevent an allergic reaction from getting worse.
Things To Do After Using Epinephrine
When experiencing anaphylaxis, ask for emergency medical help right away after administering a single dose of epinephrine. If the symptoms of the allergy continue or recur, you may use a second dose. But take note that only a healthcare provider is allowed to administer an additional shot of epinephrine if you need more than two.
People Who Can Use
Those who have a history of experiencing anaphylaxis due to bee stings can use it. However, there is a lot to consider to make sure that it is safe for you. When getting a prescription, tell your doctor all your prescriptions and non-prescription vitamins, medications, herbal products, nutritional supplements, and more. If you are allergic to epinephrine, inform your doctor immediately so they can avoid injecting it to you in case of an emergency.
Tell your doctor if you have an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, asthma, high blood pressure, and other health conditions. It is also important to tell if you are breastfeeding, expecting mothers, or if you plan to conceive.
Both humans and animals can be allergic to bee stings. Allergic reactions has different severity which determines whether you need to seek immediate medical attention or to use home remedies. If you have never been stung by bees and you are wondering if you have bee venom allergy, undergo skin test or blood test. If you have experienced severe allergic reaction to bee stings, you may choose to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you all the time.