In a bee or wasp sting, the insect releases its poison into the human skin. There is redness, swelling or itching around the puncture site. Although these skin symptoms are painful, they heal quickly in most cases. However, there are dangerous exceptions. According to the medical association of immunologists, about 3% of adults in Germany are allergic to insect bites - first and foremost those of wasps, followed by bees. Stings of hornets, bumblebees, mosquitoes and brakes are less likely to cause allergic reactions.
An insect venom allergy can be life threatening
For the 2.5 million sufferers, a single stroke can be life-threatening. In the case of insect venom allergy, the body's defense system responds excessively: after the first sting, a defense mechanism is set in motion, in which numerous antibodies are specifically formed against this poison.
If this gets back into the body when it bites again, the immune system runs amok: it causes the antibodies to swarm out in masses in order to eliminate the comparatively harmless poison. The result is a massive defense and inflammatory response that begins a few minutes after the bite and can affect the entire body.
Every year, this overreaction ends in death for around 20 people in Germany. Such cases are particularly common in late summer in times of fruit harvest - the wasps hatched at the end of August / beginning of September are then in search of food and thus particularly aggressive.
Since an insect venom allergy can be life-threatening, the person affected must be cared for very quickly after a bite. In order to be able to promptly react to new insect bites, the doctor will also put together an emergency pharmacy for the patient.
Reaction to insect bites
The reactions of the body usually begin seconds to minutes after the sting. In non-allergic people around the puncture site, a small red swelling (up to 10 cm in diameter), which itches and tenses or hurts. This swelling usually returns within an hour and disappears the next day.
Exception: simultaneous stinging of many insects (more than 50 in children and 100 in adults) or stitches in the head or neck area can be life-threatening even in non-sensitized people.
Insecticide allergy: symptoms
It is typical for allergy sufferers that the local changes at the injection site are particularly pronounced (large wheals, extensive reddening) and spread further (severe itching, swelling, burning and redness all over the body, swelling of the neck and face), on the other hand General complaints occur - as a sign that the whole organism is affected. This includes:
- Runny nose, watery eyes
- Nausea until vomiting
- difficulty in breathing
- Dazed, fainting
- Dizziness, tachycardia
- Dysphagia, speech disorders
- Fear or confusion
These are serious warning signs that an emergency situation may develop, anaphylactic shock. This is characterized by a life-threatening circulatory collapse with a greatly accelerated pulse and impending unconsciousness. In the worst case, it comes to a cardiovascular standstill.