"The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that stings from insects send more than half a million people to hospitals and cause at least 50 deaths each year. Common stingers include honey bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants," says Dr. Bill Dolen, an allergist/immunologist at Children's Hospital of Georgia.
Dr. Dolen recommends following these eight steps to avoid insect stings:
Even with precaution, stings may still happen, so it's also important to be aware of the signs of an allergic reaction, since reactions can be deadly.
"A normal reaction to an insect sting will include pain, swelling and redness at the sting site, but an allergic reaction requires immediate medical attention," says Dolen.
If you or your children have ever had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, you are at high risk for a more severe reaction if stung again. An allergist can help you determine what kind of insect you are allergic to and recommend ways to stay safe if you are stung again.
"An epinephrine injection is the most immediate way to treat a severe allergic reaction," says Dolen. An allergist can prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you and your family members how to use it.
Or, you may be a candidate for venom immunotherapy. These are allergy shots that treat insect sting allergies and may prevent future allergic reactions.
"These shots are 97 percent effective in preventing potentially life-threatening reactions to insect stings," says Dolen.
If your child is allergic to insect stings, be sure to alert teachers, coaches and camp counselors and teach them how to use epinephrine. Also talk to your child about how to avoid situations where stinging insects may be encountered.
Georgia Regents University is one of four public comprehensive research universities in the state with nearly 10,000 students enrolled in its nine colleges and schools, which include the Medical College of Georgia - the nation's 13th-oldest medical school - the nationally-ranked Hull College of Business and Georgia's only College of Dental Medicine. The clinical enterprise associated with the university includes the 478-bed Georgia Regents Medical Center and the 154-bed Children's Hospital of Georgia. GRU is a unit of the University System of Georgia and an equal opportunity institution. http://www.gru.edu
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