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Summer Survival Tips: Insect Sting Allergies

With the summer comes wonderful outdoor treats: picnics, barbecues, camping, bike rides, trips to the beach, and more. Unfortunately, the summer also brings with it some not so wonderful things: stinging insects like bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants to name the most common. For most people, an insect sting means only an annoying stinging sensation accompanied by mild swelling. For some, however, insect venom can cause potentially fatal anaphylaxis. Severe symptoms include nausea, facial swelling, breathing difficulty, abdominal pain, and a drop in blood pressure and circulation.

Mild symptoms can be taken care of relatively easily. The following steps are usually sufficient treatment for mild reactions: move to a insect-free area; remove the stinger; apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel; apply hydro-cortisone cream, calamine lotion, or a baking soda paste; and take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine.

If nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or swelling of more than two inches follows the sting, seek immediate medical attention. If the victim is experiencing dizziness, swelling of the lips, confusion, hives, and/or vomiting, call 911. Look for medical identification jewelry on the person indicating an insect allergy. The ID jewelry may also point to an ID card on the person carrying further emergency information. The victim may be carrying an epinephrine pen, which contains a shot for allergy treatment. If the victim can swallow without choking, administer antihistamine medicine. The person should lie on their back with their feet raised. Loosen their clothing and cover them with a blanket. Turn the person to their side if they are vomiting or bleeding from the mouth. Begin CPR only if there are no signs of circulation.

This description of severe insect allergy symptoms underlines the importance of emergency preparedness for those with known insect sting allergies. Wearing a medical alert bracelet or medical ID charms can help identify your symptoms quickly when time is critical. Faster treatment for a sting can make a life or death difference. Medical ID jewelry can help people with insect sting allergies to enjoy the outdoor treats of the summer.

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