When to Consider Allergy Shots for Insect Stings

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When to Consider Allergy Shots for Insect Stings

Each year in the United States, thousands of people experience the pain of an insect sting. Common culprits include honey bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants. 

While most insect stings aren’t dangerous, about 100 Americans die yearly as a result of one. That’s an important reason to consider allergy shots

Dr. Maricar Cutillar-Garcia is pleased to provide allergy care for children and adults in Valencia, California.

Let’s explore allergy shots for stings, including signs you should consider them.

Reactions to insect stings

A sting involves inserting a body part, such as a barbed stinger on the insect’s tail, into your skin to inject venom. Usually, that venom causes only localized symptoms, such as brief pain and redness. 

However, up to 7.5% of Americans are hypersensitive to insect stings. In that case, a sting could invite a range of bothersome symptoms, from lingering pain and redness to warmth and swelling around the site. 

Sting allergies cause your immune system to overreact to the venom, producing an allergic reaction. 

In fact, about 3% of adults and 0.5% of kids have a bee sting allergy, and similar percentages of people are allergic to red ants. 

When you’re allergic, a sting can prompt severe symptoms, such as abdominal pain, hives, and swelling. 

In some cases, a sting causes anaphylaxis — a full-body reaction that can threaten your life within minutes. Signs of anaphylaxis may include: 

  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Throat tickling 
  • Coughing 
  • Sweating 
  • Vomiting
  • Broadspread hives 

Intense anxiety is also common.

When to consider allergy shots for insect stings

If you’ve had an allergic reaction to a sting at some point, you hold a high risk for a similar response in the future. 

Dr. Cutillar-Garcia may recommend allergy shots if you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction or one that could have become lethal without medical intervention. Allergy shots help prevent dangerous sting reactions by making you less sensitive to the venom. 

This treatment is effective. Allergy shots for bee stings, as well as other stings, are about 98% effective in staving off severe reactions. Allergy shots may also help treat a moderate to severe sting reaction.

What to expect from your treatment

It’s important to receive your allergy shots from a qualified professional, like Dr. Cutillar-Garcia, given that the shots might trigger an anaphylactic reaction. As long as it is treated immediately, you will be fine.

Before starting your shots, Dr. Cutillar-Garcia may conduct a blood or skin test to confirm or detect your specific allergens. 

Next, she’ll establish a schedule for administering the shots into your arm. To start, you may receive shots 1-3 times per week in our office, with your dosage gradually increasing over 3-6 months. 

Then, you’ll enter a maintenance phase, in which you’ll only need about one shot per month for 3-5 years.

Each allergy shot appointment lasts about 30 minutes. During this time, you receive your injections and are monitored for allergic reactions. 

To learn more about allergy shots for stings or learn if you’re a candidate, our expert team would love to help. Call our office or book an appointment through our website today.