Making Decisions About Home Care

Three Myths About Bee Stings: Busted

by Mae Ferguson

Most people get stung by a bee at least once in their life. For many, the experience is just a little uncomfortable. For others, getting stung leads to a dangerous allergic reaction and lands them in the emergency room. Whether you have a known insect allergy or not, it is important to know a bit about bee stings so that if you or a friend get stung, you can react properly. Here's a look at three common myths about bee stings -- and the real truth.

Myth #1: If you were stung by a bee before and did not have a reaction, then you're not allergic.

People can develop allergies at any point in their life. Thus, even if you were stung by a bee before and did not have a reaction, there is a small chance you could have an allergic reaction the next time you are stung. Always be on the lookout for allergy symptoms, which include extreme redness at the stinging site, hives, excessive swelling, itchiness in the throat, and wheezing, after being stung. Always tell someone when you have been stung, so that if you do end up needing emergency assistance, that person can ensure you obtain it.

Myth #2: Putting baking soda and water on a bee sting, and it will get better.

While the baking soda and water mixture may temporarily soothe the stinging sensation, this treatment alone is not often enough. Usually, the bee's stinger gets stuck in your skin, and if you don't pull it out, you'll keep suffering from itching and stinging sensations for days as the toxins in the stinger slowly leech into your body. To remove the stinger, look at the area under a magnifying glass. You should see a little, hair-like projection where you were stung. Grasp it with tweezers, and pull it out. Once it's removed, then you can apply baking soda to soothe any lingering pain.

Myth #3: If an allergic person's throat does not begin to close after they're stung, they don't need medical attention.

If someone has a known bee sting allergy, they should seek emergency treatment right away after being stung, regardless of the appearance of symptoms. The symptoms could become worse at any moment. What starts off as hives, for example, could progress to a closed throat at any point. Similarly, if you have no history of a bee allergy but start developing even minor allergy symptoms after a sting, you should go to the emergency room.

If an allergic person carries an EpiPen or similar epinephrine injection, this should be administered following a sting, regardless of symptoms. In fact, it is best if it is administered before the symptoms get too bad. The person should still be taken to the emergency room after the EpiPen is used.

Bee stings should always be taken seriously, because there is always a chance of an allergic reaction. If you or someone you know is allergic, seeking prompt medical attention could mean the difference between life and death. For more information, talk to a professional like Oak Brook Allergists.