Insect Sting Allergy Complications

Written by the Healthline Editorial Staff | Published on July 22, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 22, 2014

Complications of an Insect Sting Allergy

Most allergic reactions to insect stings are mild and short-lived. Symptoms such as pain, itching, and swelling are uncomfortable, but they are not typically of major concern. Occasionally, however, there may be more severe complications, like anaphylaxis or infection. In such cases, it is important to seek emergency medical care as soon as possible.

Anaphylaxis

The major complication of an insect sting allergy is anaphylaxis. This is also called anaphylactic shock. Signs of this emergency reaction include:

  • hoarseness, throat tightness, or a lump in the throat
  • wheezing, chest tightness, or trouble breathing
  • tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or scalp
  • lightheadedness, fainting, or a sudden drop in blood pressure

If you or someone you are with experiences any of these symptoms, call emergency services immediately.

If an auto-injection epinephrine kit is available, use it.

Epinephrine is a rescue medication. Additional medical care may be needed. This might include oxygen treatment, steroid administration, and other treatments. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency. Call for emergency medical assistance.

Infection

The site of a sting or bite can easily become infected. If you are stung or bit, be careful to avoid scratching the site, and make sure to keep it as clean as possible. An infected bite or sting will require additional medical care. 

Long-Term Outlook

Symptoms of insect sting allergy are usually mild and short-lived. According to the Cleveland Clinic, if you have had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, you have a 60 percent chance of having a similar or worse reaction if stung again by the same type of insect. It would be advisable to avoid being stung again in the future. If your doctor thinks it is appropriate, you might consider allergy shots to reduce your sensitivity.

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