Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Bee Stings

Bee Stings

The danger of bee stings

The two greatest risks from most insect stings are allergic reaction (which occasionally could be fatal in some individuals) and infection (more common and less serious).

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets belong to a class of insects called Hymenoptera. Most insect stings cause only minor discomfort. Stings can occur anywhere on the body and can be painful and frightening. Over 95 percent of stings are from honey bees or yellow jackets. Fire ants, usually found in southern states, can sting multiple times, and the sites are more likely to become infected.

What are the symptoms of an insect sting?

The following are the most common symptoms of insect stings. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Treatment for stings

Specific treatment for stings will be determined by your doctor. Large, local reactions usually do not lead to generalized reactions. However, they can be life-threatening if the sting occurs in the mouth, nose, or throat area. This is due to swelling that can close off the airway.

Treatment for local skin reactions may include the following:

Call 911 or your local emergency medical service (EMS) and seek emergency care immediately if the individual is stung in the mouth, nose, or throat area, or for any signs of a systemic or generalized reaction.

Emergency medical treatment may include the following:

Prevention of insect stings

Some general guidelines to help reduce the possibility of insect stings while outdoors include the following:

Some additional preventive measures for persons who have a known or suspected allergy to stings include the following:

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