Summer is almost here, and it’s the season when most insects and bugs come out in full force, increasing the risk of a bite or sting. While some bites are completely harmless, others come with symptoms that warrant a visit to the emergency room. According to data from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 90 to 100 fatalities per year are due to insect sting anaphylaxis, or severe allergies to insect bites. To stay safe and healthy, it’s important to be aware of symptoms that require immediate medical attention, especially if you have a severe reaction to bites and stings. If you suspect that you’re allergic to certain insects, these are the insect bite symptoms that you should never ignore.
Pain, nausea, and high blood pressure after a spider bite
There are several varieties of spider that can be found in homes, gardens, and forests within the United States. Some species – such as the daddy-long-legs spider, which lives in cellars, barns and garages, or the American house spider, which spins webs outside homes – are harmless. At the most, people will feel a slight discomfort after getting bitten by these types of spiders. But being bitten by the black widow can cause symptoms such as nausea, muscle aches, and difficulty breathing, as it is the most venomous spider in North America. Meanwhile, getting bitten by a red widow spider can cause high blood pressure, muscle spasms, and vomiting. If you got bitten by a spider, clean the wound with soap and water and treat it with an antibiotic cream. Next, elevate the area and put an ice pack on the bite to reduce swelling. If you start to feel severe pain, nausea, palpitations, or sweating, seek medical attention immediately.
Difficulty breathing or dizziness after a bee sting
In many cases, a bee sting will only cause a mild reaction, such as pain, irritation, and mild swelling of the affected area. But for some people, it can cause anaphylaxis. About 5-7% of people will experience a severe allergic reaction to bee stings, and the symptoms include difficulty breathing, dizziness, abdominal pain, nausea, and loss of consciousness. The symptoms develop rapidly, so if you’re allergic to bee venom, make sure that you have an epinephrine pen with you at all times to reverse the symptoms. After self-administering the epinephrine, get to the emergency room immediately for further treatment.
Hives and stomach cramps after a fire ant sting
Fire ants are typically found in the south and southeast areas of the U.S., and 5% of all fire ant sting reactions are life threatening and result in about 40 fatalities per year in the country. Just like bee stings, a fire ant sting can cause anaphylaxis, and the symptoms include hives, swelling in the throat or tongue, stomach cramps, difficulty breathing, and a rapid fall in blood pressure. To relieve mild pain and swelling, you can ice the sting and take an antihistamine to relieve itching. For severe allergic reactions, an auto-injectable epinephrine device will help to reverse symptoms, but head to the emergency room as well to get evaluated by an allergist.
Some insect bites may result in nothing more than mild swelling and a rash, as some insects don’t cause serious harm. But if you experience anaphylaxis after a spider bite, bee sting, or fire ant sting, it’s recommended to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to reverse the symptoms. Don’t forget to ask your doctor for treatment options so you can build a natural immunity to your allergy triggers.