Know the Signs of Anaphylaxis

- National Pest Management Association
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer brings many cautionary reminders to help keep the public safe. We are advised to know the signs of drowning for it doesn't look like what's portrayed in the movies. We are urged to understand the signs of heatstroke often caused by over-exertion in the hot summer temperatures. And, we are encouraged to know the signs of rip currents before plunging into the ocean for a cooling swim. There is, however, one threat that is extra prevalent during the summer that doesn't get enough attention or warning - I urge you to know the signs of anaphylaxis from insect stings.

While I know from industry data that insect stings send more than half a million people to the hospital each year, I didn't really give the staggering statistic as much thought as I should have because it was faceless for me until this past week. Unfortunately, my sweet cousin was stung by wasps so badly that she had to receive major injections of steroids and antibiotics and was given a stern warning that she was merely hours from hospitalization. Right after that, I learned of an area woman who was hospitalized and is in critical condition from a hornet sting and the resulting anaphylactic shock. These adults had no prior knowledge they were allergic to the venom from common summer stingers. While most people will have only mild reactions to insect stings (bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, etc.), here are some of the symptoms that may indicate a severe reaction and warrant immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing and/or swallowing
  • Hives
  • Excessive swelling, especially around the face and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms after an insect sting, or are otherwise concerned about your reaction to a sting, please consult a medical professional immediately. Insect stings can lead to shock and cardiac arrest within minutes and can be fatal. More so, if you have a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting, you are at greater risk for an anaphylactic reaction the next time you are stung.

Go out and enjoy the dog days of summer, but keep in mind the signs of the season's foes. 

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