Wasp sting allergy

Specialty of Allergy & immunology

What is a wasp sting allergy?

A wasp sting can cause severe reactions to people who are allergic to the poisonous substance injected by these insects’ stings. After being stung by a wasp, a mild swelling and redness are the normal reactions to the toxins contained in their venom. However, a more severe reaction is indicative of allergy. In this case, a wasp sting could be life-threatening, and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Prognosis:

If you talk to an allergy specialist you will be given measures to manage your allergy. If you are stung and you do not have adequate treatments immediately available, medical attention will be needed as soon as possible and should be treated as an emergency.

What are the symptoms of a wasp sting allergy?

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to wasp stings are:

  • Local swelling;
  • Urticaria and itchy skin;
  • Pain and discomfort;
  • Vomiting;
  • Trouble breathing and shortness of breath;
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhoea;
  • Confusion and stupor;
  • Accelerated heartbeat;
  • Decrease in blood pressure;
  • Loss of consciousness and fainting;
  • Gasping for air

The above-mentioned symptoms occur a few minutes after being stung and may last more than 24 hours.

A wasp sting may also onset anaphylaxis (cardiopulmonary arrest and collapse).

How is a wasp sting allergy diagnosed?

There are some specific tests you can do within three weeks of being stung, which can confirm if you’re allergic to wasp stings. However, these tests may in turn cause an allergic reaction if you have a severe form of allergy. That is why you should get them done in a specialised allergy centre. After being stung, the specialist will also examine you and take a blood sample.

What causes a wasp sting allergy?

Wasps tend to be more aggressive compared to bees and other insects. There are several reasons why you have higher chances of being stung by a wasp:

  • They build their nests on the ground or on places you can easily touch, such as roof tiles, walls or terraces;
  • Wasps are attracted by sugar, fruits, meat and garbage: that is why they build their nests near houses;
  • Whereas bees die when they sting someone, wasps can sting more than once.

How can a wasp sting allergy be prevented?

Immunotherapy is the most successful treatment option to treat wasp sting allergies. The goal is to desensitise you to prevent severe reactions if you are stung again in the future.

How is a wasp sting allergy treated?

Alongside immunotherapy, other treatment options include:

  • Taking antihistamines;
  • Taking corticosteroids;
  • Epinephrine auto injection (you can carry an auto injector with you and use it in less than 10 seconds). An epinephrine (adrenaline) shot can prevent anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions.

Which doctor should I talk to?

If you suspect you may be allergic to wasps, you should see an allergy specialist.

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