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Bee poisoning refers to a serious body reaction to the venom from a bee sting. Wasps and yellow jackets sting with the same venom, and can cause the same body reaction.
Usually, bee stings do not cause a serious reaction. However, if you are allergic to bee stings or have had several bee stings, you may experience a severe reaction (poisoning). Bee poisoning requires immediate medical attention.
Bee poisoning may also be called apitoxin poisoning or apis virus poisoning; apitoxin and apis virus are the technical names for bee venom.
Certain individuals are at a higher risk for bee poisoning than others. Risk factors for bee poisoning include:
According to the Mayo Clinic, adults are more likely to suffer serious reactions to bee stings than children (Mayo Clinic).
If you have a known allergy to bee, wasp, or yellow jacket venom, you should carry a bee sting kit with you when you’re spending time outdoors. This contains a medication called epinephrine, which treats anaphylaxis—a severe allergic reaction that could make breathing difficult.
Mild symptoms of a bee sting include:
Symptoms of bee poisoning include:
Most people who have been stung by a bee do not require medical attention. Monitor any minor symptoms, such as mild swelling and itching. If they do not go away in a few days or if you begin to experience more severe symptoms, call your doctor.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as trouble breathing or difficulty swallowing, call 911. You should also seek medical help if you have a known allergy to bee stings or if you have had multiple bee stings.
When you call 911, the operator will ask for your age, weight, and symptoms. It is also helpful to know the type of bee that stung you and when the sting occurred.
Treatment for a bee sting involves removing the stinger and caring for any symptoms. Treatment techniques include:
If someone you know is experiencing an allergic reaction, immediately call 9-1-1. While waiting for paramedics to arrive, you can:
If you need to go to the hospital for bee poisoning, a health care professional will monitor your vital signs, including your pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure, and temperature. You will be given medication called epinephrine or adrenaline to treat the allergic reaction. Other emergency treatment for bee poisoning includes:
If you have had an allergic reaction to a bee sting, your doctor will prescribe you an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen�). This should be carried with you at all times and is used to treat anaphylactic reactions.
Your doctor may also refer you to an allergist. Your allergist may suggest allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. This therapy consists of receiving several shots over a period of time that contain a very small amount of bee venom. This can help reduce or eliminate your allergic reaction to bee stings.
To avoid bee stings:
If you are allergic to bee venom, you should always carry epinephrine with you and wear a medical I.D. bracelet. Ensure that your friends, family members, and co-workers know how to use an epinephrine autoinjector.
Written by: Janelle Martel
Medically reviewed : George Krucik, MD
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