Have you ever been stung by a bee? If you did, it must have been a painfully memorable experience. Nevertheless, since you are alive and well enough to read this article, consider yourself lucky. Interestingly, more people die each year from a severe allergic reaction to bee stings, more than snakes bites or dog bites.
Why do bees sting?
Bees are known for two things: their being industrious (hence the term, “busy bee”), and their venom. They are attracted to brightly colored clothes and perfume scents. Just as long as you do not bother them, they won’t bother you either.
A bee’s task everyday is to visit about a hundred flowers to collect pollen and nectar for their hive. If you get in their way, the bee will certainly sting you, releasing venom that usually causes skin irritation, and on rare cases, a life threatening allergic reaction.
What causes the allergic reaction?
After a bee has stung its victim, it leaves its stinger with the venom sac still attached in the victim. This stinger must be removed immediately because it only takes a few minutes for the venom to be fully injected. Bee venom, in fact, is a complex composition of enzymes, amino acids, and proteins. A person who is allergic to bee stings can be stung only once but can die of anaphylactic shock right afterwards unless medical treatment is available.
What are the symptoms of a bee venom allergy?
Normally, the area of a bee sting would just itch a bit and can subside after a few minutes. But if after a few minutes to an hour, when you notice that you feel itchiness all over your body, rashes start to appear, and your lips and eyelids begin to swell and puff up, you are actually experiencing an allergic reaction. In severe cases, you will start having difficulty breathing like your chest feels constricted. The heart rate will increase rapidly. Itchy welts will start popping up all over your body and inside your throat and your eyes will start to swell shut.
How do you get bees not to sting you?
Like all other allergies, avoidance is the key method of symptom prevention. If you are allergic to bee stings, avoid all situations that make you vulnerable to bee stings.
Do not use flowery scented colognes, soaps, or lotions, and do not wear bright colored clothing either because these can attract bees. If you see a bee near you, move away slowly. Try not to swat it either because when a bee’s body is crushed, it produces an odor that incites bees to attack in greater numbers. If this does happen, run for cover indoors.
Those who know they have a bee venom allergy should carry a Medic Alert bracelet at all times. They should also carry a self-injection kit in case of an allergic reaction. This can be combined with antihistamine tablets for emergency treatment.