Experts estimate that about 3% of adults are allergic to insect bites and stings, and less than 1% of children are. However, 90-100 people die annually from anaphylaxis resulting from a bite or a sting.
At the Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, Dr. Reinhard Kage and Dr. Barbara Kage help patients with all manner of allergies, including insect allergies. A comprehensive exam and diagnostic tests are the best way to determine if you are allergic to insect bites or stings, but it’s helpful to understand what kinds of insects cause allergic reactions, as well as what kinds of symptoms you should watch for if you’re bitten or stung.
Types of insects
Although millions of different types of insects exist, three broad categories cover those that cause allergic reactions:
1. Stinging insects
Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are three representatives of this category. When one of these insects stings you, they inject a little poison into your body. Even in people who aren’t allergic to stinging insects, the poison can cause a surprising reaction. In those who are allergic, the reaction can be life-threatening.
2. Biting insects
Some types of flies, mosquitoes, and ticks are a few of the many, many types of biting insects that can cause an allergic reaction. Bedbugs and fleas fall into this category as well.
Even if you’re not allergic to these bites, you’re likely to experience inflammation, itching, and other reactions.
Notably, the lone star tick can cause you to develop an allergy to meat. It transfers a specific sugar to you when it bites you, and your immune system reacts. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after you eat meat, book an appointment with a qualified allergist.
3. Household pests
Some insects cause allergic reactions without biting or stinging. Cockroaches and dust mites are two of the most common types of household pets people are allergic to. They are often associated with asthma.
Normal symptoms versus allergic reaction symptoms
Almost anyone who is stung or bitten will have redness, itching, pain, or swelling. Usually, these symptoms dissipate within hours or days at most.
When you’re allergic to a bite or sting, your symptoms may seem more similar to a cold. You might cough or have a runny nose, except instead of lasting a few days, your symptoms may last weeks. If you have asthma, a bite or sting could result in an asthma attack.
In instances of severe allergy, you’re at risk of anaphylaxis, which can be deadly without prompt medical attention. If you develop swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, hives, vomiting, dizziness, or difficulty breathing, get help right away.
How we can help
A comprehensive exam by someone on our team, along with the appropriate diagnostic tests can give you an important tool for handling insect allergies, and that is knowledge. If you know that you’re allergic to stinging insects, you can better avoid them, for example.
We can also give you guidance on exactly what you should do if you’re bitten or stung by an insect you’re allergic to. That way, you can take the appropriate steps and not panic.
If you suspect that you have an allergy to an insect, book your appointment today. We’re happy to answer your questions and suggest the best ways for you to deal with your allergy. We have two locations in Manchester and Middletown, Connecticut and you can schedule your appointment at either one online or by phone.