In this season, there are many insects of the hymenoptera family that can sting us. Bees, wasps, hornets, albeit with different characteristics and methods in terms of “aggression” (we must pay attention to how we behave to limit the risks) can in fact become enemies of our skin. In most cases, the discomfort with pain and possible itching tends to self-reduce over time, as does the wheal that forms. But there are people who can have abnormal reactions, such as to lead to anaphylactic shock. How is it determined? And what needs to be done?
Different levels of severity
As mentioned, not all hymenoptera induce identical reactions: a lot depends on the level of awareness of the individualsince there are subjects who can manifest situations very serious while others are limited to passenger annoyances. Unfortunately, however, the process that leads to anaphylactic shock always follows a similar path. The reactions after a sting, obviously in people predisposed to develop particularly intense symptoms following previous sensitizations, can basically be of four types.
The milder form is manifested by a kind of generalized urticaria with severe itching. If the picture is more severe, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a feeling of weight in the chest are also associated. Then we arrive at the third phase, the most serious one in which the edema of the glottis (ie a sort of narrowing of the airways through which the air passes) is the cause of the major disturbances. It is hard to breathe, much like a very severe asthma attack, and you can’t even swallow. Finally, the fourth form, which can be fatal, leads to a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and collapse. On the treatment front, according to experts you always need to be prepared especially if you know that you are particularly reactive to a possible unwelcome encounter with an insect.
In general terms (remember to always refer to an allergist to let you indicate what to bring with you. at the first levels of severity it is also possible to use antihistamine drugs and cortisone derivatives. But those who fear more serious and serious forms should always have one quickly available vial of adrenaline, which can allow you to get to the emergency room., in addition to calling for help immediately. On the prevention front, to limit the risks of “attracting” enemies who could attack us. For those who know they are allergic, great caution is needed when moving in areas where hornets may be present, such as in a garden with fruit trees. But that’s not enough.
It would be helpful to avoid gardening and protect yourself with hat, shirt and long pants, avoiding to move barefoot when in potentially risky areas. Not only. We know that there are some factors that can attract hornets. For example, when you see an insect of this type, you should avoid moving suddenly. And very brightly colored or black clothes, perfumes, deodorants, hairsprays and particularly fragrant shampoos can also act as a lure. One last recommendation: sport is good for you, but for those with allergies, physical activity creates a condition of the body that attracts these insects, increasing the risk of bites.
Prevention with the “vaccine”
L’allergy to poison of hymenoptera can therefore cause localized reactions or severe general reactions. And it must be the specialist who indicates how to behave, also in terms of prevention, with a specific preventive treatment. It is called allergen-specific immunotherapy, although we often refer to it as a “vaccine”. It should be discussed with your doctor if following a bee, wasp or hornet sting, you have had, at least once, a very extensive local reaction or a systemic reaction (characterized by hives and accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling of the eyes and lips , low blood pressure, dizziness, breathing problems).
In these cases, as recalled by Maria Teresa Bilò, scientific referent of the “Punto nel Vivo” campaign, sponsored by FederAsma and Allergie Onlus – Italian Patients Federation, “it is advisable to go to one of the centers specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of allergy to poison hymenoptera to confirm the diagnosis of allergy and have the most suitable therapy “. Then, if the specialist recommends it for those allergic to hymenoptera venom, you can focus on a allergen-specific immunotherapy treatmentbecause over time it induces tolerance towards poison.