What to do for a bee sting allergy and anaphylaxis ?

This article explains various emergency procedures and medicines that are administered in individuals suffering from severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock due to exposed venom during bee sting. Preventive measures explained help an individual to escape from undergoing emergency treatment.


Bee stings are usually very common as bees are found everywhere. Most common bee stings one can encounter are stings from honey bees. Though bee stings cause a little discomfort by causing pain, redness, swelling, itching etc but are rather harmless. However, in certain individuals, bee stings cause severe allergic reactions. Whereas in others they may result in anaphylactic shock. These kind of situations where body responds to bee venom by displaying allergy and anaphylaxis, there rises a demand for emergency procedures and treatments as these situations are life threatening.

Symptoms of emergency case of anaphylaxis

Some people are allergic to stings and thus when a bee stings, their body goes into shock. This situation is fatal. Stings triggering a fatal anaphylactic reaction in the body is a very quick process. This itself is known as anaphylaxis where patient experiences severe allergic reactions.

Following are the symptoms experienced-

  • nausea and vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • pain in stomach,
  • increased heart rate,
  • difficulty in breathing,
  • fall in blood pressure,
  • weak pulse,
  • dysphagia,
  • dizziness,
  • swelling seen of face, lips, tongue, throat etc,
  • generalized itching,
  • confusion or anxiety,
  • loss of consciousness etc.

Almost 3% of people suffer from allergic reactions due to bee stings and 0.8% of them experience anaphylaxis. Those who have already suffered from allergic reactions are at high risk of suffering from them again in the future. It is important for them to carry bee sting kit which comprises of an epinephrine shot. Next time when a bee stings them, they can make use of this shot which will cause relaxation in their muscles, blood vessels and helps body to deal with the venom until emergency procedures get started.

Emergency treatment of anaphylaxis

Severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in the body will require emergency medical treatment. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is performed if a person stops breathing or heart functioning gets ceased. Doctor may prescribe an emergency epinephrine auto injector Epi Pen, Auvi-Q etc. It is recommended to carry it all the time. It when pressed against thighs release medication. One should know how to use it. Even others who always stay closest to that person should know how to use auto injector so that they can be of help during anaphylactic shock. Allergy shots taken regularly for few years can eliminate allergic response to bee venom.

Certain medicines given during emergency treatment are-

  • Beta agonist to improve breathing.
  • Adrenaline to decrease allergic reactions caused in body.
  • Antihistamines and cortisone both are given intravenously. Both of them help in breathing and decrease inflammation caused in air passages.
  • In case of sting inside the mouth or throat, hospitalization is done and patient is kept under close observation. In case of complications if any, more intensive care is needed. If stung on the eye ball, eye doctor will make evaluation. In case of multiple stings, multiple blood tests and hospitalization is done even if there is absence of allergic reactions.

Diagnosis of bee allergy

Any reaction developed in body as a response to bee venom suggests that an individual is allergic to bee venom. In such cases, following tests are conducted.

Allergy skin test- A small amount of bee venom is introduced into skin of upper back or arm. If a person is allergic then at the site of injection, a raised bump can be seen. This test is quite safe to conduct and does not pose any life-threatening consequences as venom is injected in small amount and patient is kept under medical supervision.

Allergy blood test- A blood sample is taken from a person. It is then subjected to test to know whether there is any evidence of sensitivity when allergens are introduced. Basically, allergy-causing antibodies present in blood is measured. This in turn will actually diagnose a person's immune system's response to venom of bee.

Prevention from getting stung by bee

Individuals who are severely allergic to bee venom and those who are at high risk of going into anaphylactic shock should adopt preventive measures to prevent emergency treatment. Some of the preventive measures which can be adopted are as follows-
  • Leave bee hives alone. Do not throw a stone or any obstacle over hives and lend a trouble for self. If by any chance one get surrounded by bees then walk slowly away from them and maintain calm. Swatting at them may make them angry which in turn will provoke them to sting. Cover mouth and nose properly to avoid stinging in oral cavity or throat and preventing their entrance in nasal cavity. Quickly try to get into nearest building or shelter in a closed vehicle.
  • While outside, do not walk barefoot, especially in grass or weeds. Wear close-toed shoes.
  • Cover food nicely. All the food containers and trash cans should be covered.
  • Be careful when drinking beverages in outdoors and especially sweet ones. Instead of drinking from a narrow mouth bottle, make use of wide, open cups or other wide containers as it is easy to clearly see if a bee is fallen into them.
  • Before drinking or eating anything outside, inspect food and beverages carefully.
  • Stay away from garbage, especially if it is lying open and is uncovered. Flies attract bees and thus standing near garbage, feces of animals and other wastes should be avoided.
  • Avoid wearing clothes which are bright in colors and have floral prints as they attract bees. Wear light colored and smooth clothes.
  • While outside, avoid loose fitting clothes to prevent bees getting trapped between clothes and skin.
  • While driving, do not keep windows down. Instead keep windows of vehicle rolled up.
  • Do not apply body deodorants, hair products or perfumes which carry sweet-odor as they seem to attract bees.
  • Maintain personal hygiene as dirt and sweat seem to anger bees.
  • If there are any bee hives near home or work place then with the help of a professional, take them down.
  • When trimming garden, mowing the lawn, trimming vegetation take care not to provoke bees in a hive.


Bee stings are usually harmless and cause only mild discomfort in majority of the individuals. All the discomfort which is seen ease out with time and also by trying certain home remedies. Know more about what to do after a bee sting to keep oneself aware with various medicines and easy treatments one can adopt. However, in certain individuals these simple home remedies do not relieve discomfort. Their body shows severe allergic reactions to bee venom which may become so severe that their body may undergo anaphylactic shock. Emergency treatments and proper medicines are necessary to treat their condition. They are kept under medical supervision until they show signs of complete recovery. Once their body undergoes such reactions and shock, chances of again displaying such reactions increases. It is better for them to prevent getting exposed to bee venom which will thereby prevent severe allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.

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