The warm weather brings out unwanted insects and along with them, comes allergies. Insects can cause allergic reactions among most people, either by stinging, biting, or even without either. While insect stings usually cause a minor reaction in most people, they can be life-threatening for others. For some people, year-long bugs that are found in homes, buildings, and the environment can cause an allergy or asthma without biting or stinging. It is best to identify such insects and avoid being stung or bitten. Here are some things to know about insect allergies.
Insects that Cause Allergic Reactions
Different insects and bugs can cause allergic reactions among humans. Stinging insects like bees, hornets, wasps, fire ants and yellow jackets are stinging insects that inject you with venom. While most people will recover within hours or days, the venom can cause life-threatening reactions in others.
Biting insects rarely cause any threatening reactions but mosquitoes, fleas, lice, bees, bed bugs and more can cause an allergic reaction among some people. People suffer from redness, swelling, pain, itching and stinging around the area of the bite.
Household pests like cockroaches and dust mites may be a cause of allergies or asthma. The cockroach and dust mite’s waste and body cause allergic reactions and can trigger asthma symptoms and asthma attacks. (AAFA, 2015)
Symptoms of Insect Allergies
Allergic reactions for stinging or biting insects are instant and result in pain, redness, mild swelling, itching and warmth around the area of the sting or the bite. For insects that don’t sting or bite, the reaction is different. Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, cough, itchy eyes, throat, nose or mouth are common reactions that are often misinterpreted as symptoms of a common cold. Insect allergies can also trigger asthma attacks for those suffering from asthma.
Severe reactions, also known as anaphylactic reactions occur rarely but are emergencies. If not treated immediately, these can be life-threatening. The symptoms may include difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, breaking out into hives or rashes, dizziness or fainting, wheezing or trouble to swallow, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, restlessness or anxiety. In these cases, it is essential to seek emergency treatment as soon as possible. (WebMD, 2020)
How can You Prevent Insect Allergies?
While it is impossible to completely avoid insects, there are ways you can prevent insect stings and bites, which cause the most allergies.
- If you’re stepping out, make sure you’re wearing socks and shoes. Wear long-sleeved clothes, pants and keep yourself covered when visiting a wooded area. You can also avoid wearing bright colored clothes and too much perfume.
- Learn to recognize insect nests. Beehives, yellow jackets nesting in the ground or old logs, hornets, and wasps making homes in old buildings or trees should be spotted and avoided.
- Choose to use screens on windows and doors at home, use insect repellents when outdoors and avoid keeping plants at home that specifically attract such insects. Keep your garbage cans covered and spray frequently with insecticides.
- Keep your home clean and dusted to avoid dust mites and do not leave crumbs, food or water out in the open that can attract insects. (WebMD, 2020)
To prevent allergies, allergy shots can be taken. These are said to be 97% effective. Tiny amounts of the allergen are injected into your body until your body gets used to it and doesn’t react severely. (WebMD)
If you are severely allergic, make sure you always travel with someone or carry some identification that states you are allergic. Make sure you have an emergency protocol such as an epipen and an emergency action plan with someone in the family made responsible for maintaining. Enjoy your summer outdoors but don’t forget to follow the precautions and avoid insect allergies. In case of any severe reaction, get emergency treatment as soon as possible.
“AAFA.” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, www.aafa.org/insect-allergy/.
“Are You Allergic To Insect Stings? Types Of Reactions, Symptoms And Treatments.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/allergies/insect-stings.