Having a child with a bee sting allergy is tricky (and sometimes scary) business: Whether it’s a sports practice or just running around your backyard, you want them to enjoy playing outside in the summertime — but the fear of what would happen if a bee crashed the party is always at the back of your mind.
According to research and population data, 16 million Americans are living with a potentially life-threatening allergy to bee stings, and there are 220,000 ER visits that occur each year for bee sting allergy-related anaphylaxis — but, as a parent, you can actually prevent such emergencies before they arise and with 98% success.
Scroll on to learn how venom immunotherapy can provide preventative treatment for bee sting allergies, so you and your child can enjoy the sunshine without the fear of a potentially disastrous and dangerous sting ruining all the fun.
The Basics Of Bee Stings
First thing first: It’s important to look for the signs of a bee sting allergy if you believe your child was stung. According to BeeAware — which aims to raise awareness of bee sting allergies and connect people with local medical providers — common bee sting symptoms include burning, slight swelling, and a red welt which typically subsides in a few hours.
Is Your Child Allergic To Bee Stings?
Symptoms of a less severe bee sting allergy may include stomach pain, swelling around the sting area, watery eyes, and a runny nose. More severe allergic reactions may be categorized by hives, hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, throat swelling, intense abdominal pain, vomiting and/or diarrhea, fainting, and irregular or rapid heartbeat.
These symptoms can arise up to 12 hours after the initial sting so it’s important to remain alert to any and all abnormal signs and symptoms. With a severe allergic reaction, you’ll want to call 911 immediately and then use an epinephrine pen if your child has been prescribed one.
Bee Sting Allergy Testing
If your child has shown any moderate or severe symptoms after a sting, you can confirm whether or not they have stinging insect allergies through testing.
In these skin allergy tests, a small amount of venom is dropped into an area of gently-scratched skin. Then, depending on the results, testing may increase to injecting minimal amounts of venom under the skin.
After each exposure, you’ll wait roughly 30 minutes to see the extent of the reaction before moving onto the next phase of the test. As soon as a reaction (in the form of a red bump or welt, of a size determined by a doctor) appears at the test site, testing stops. The size of the reaction and the amount of venom needed to produce the reaction is what determines the risk of deadly allergic reaction.
The Buzz On Venom Immunotherapy
OK, so you’ve determined that your child is unfortunately allergic to bee stings. So, what’s a parent to do? According to Insect Sting Anaphylaxis, venom immunotherapy is up to 98% effective in preventing systemic allergic reactions and it could be just the treatment that prevents your kiddo from having a severe bee sting allergy.
What Is Venom Immunotherapy?
If you’ve never heard of venom immunotherapy, you’re not alone.
Immunotherapy is an ongoing treatment involving a series of allergy shots that work to diminish sensitivity to allergens and prevent severe allergic reactions. In the case of bee sting allergies, venom immunotherapy involves injecting small doses of stinging insect venom under the skin.
How Does It Work?
With venom immunotherapy, an individual will receive one allergy shot per week for a month. After the initial period, they’ll transition to full dosage shots once per month — also known as maintenance dosages — at which point the patient is 98% protected. (Alternatively, the process can be expedited, with maintenance dosages reached in as little as 48 hours.)
After the first couple years of treatment, the maintenance doses will gradually become less frequent: every four weeks, to every eight weeks, and eventually 12 weeks apart. Within three to five years, treatment will have concluded with projection lasting far into adulthood.
In addition to honey bee stings, venom immunotherapy can also treat allergies to stings from yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets.
Finding Venom Immunotherapy Providers
Thinking of pursuing this bee sting allergy-prevention treatment for your child? Click below to use BeeAware’s Find A Provider locator tool to find a medical professional in your area who specializes in venom immunotherapy.
Because preventing emergencies before they occur is basically one of the daily duties of being a mom!