Anaphylactic Shock - My Allergic Reaction To A Yellow Jacket Bee Sting

by Shirley Peel - Date: 2006-12-03 - Word Count: 750 Share This!

Most yellow jacket bee stings are a bit painful, but they can be treated at home without any lasting problem. Home treatment usually consists of an ice pack or baking soda to the site of the sting. However, some people have a very severe allergy reaction to these kinds of stings which require immediate emergency treatment. In fact, insect stings can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock.

What Is Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock, also known as anaphylactic reaction, is an immediate, severe allergic reaction that occurs within minutes of exposure to a substance that produces the allergy, such as a bee sting, and involves the entire body. The body's immune system responds to allergens in the system by sending protection in the form of histamines. Normally the cells of the body send just the right amount of histamine necessary to combat the allergen. However, in some cases, as in anaphylactic shock reactions, the released histamine causes the effects commonly associated with severe allergic responses, such as dilated blood capillaries, red skin, swelling, itching and rapidly appearing hives, known as urticaria.

More than 10,000 people in North America are afflicted each year by anaphylaxis. Of these, more than 750 episodes end in death. Because symptoms of anaphylaxis resemble those seen in other diseases, the true numbers are not known.

Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock

The symptoms are many, and they are progressive. They can include skin redness, cough, nasal congestion, itching, hives, swelling, anxiety, sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations), rapid or weak pulse, fainting, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, extreme anxiety, blueness of the skin, and difficulty breathing. If not treated, death results.

Emergency Treatment of Severe Allergic Reactions

Prompt emergency treatment should be immediate to reduce the likelihood of death. Treatment includes the injection of adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, to constrict the blood vessels and counteract the effects of the histamine. Further measures might includes the administration of oxygen or even the performance of a tracheotomy may be needed

A Personal Experience - My Near Fatal Encounter With A Yellow Jacket

Living in exurbia, I have had many red ant bites and have been stung once or twice by a regular wasp. These bites have always caused a mild to moderate reaction, such as swelling and blistering. But nothing prepared me for the experience of being stung by a yellow jacket.

On a beautiful morning, I was walking through the woods in the back of my house when I disturbed a yellow jacket nest which was under a small branch. Although I slowly backed away, I was suddenly stung on my right elbow. The site of the sting immediately caused a blister about the size of a quarter. I quickly made it back to the house, and put an ice pack on the site.

I began to feel very warm all over, my ears and earlobes became swollen and rubbery, my heart began to race, and I felt very, very anxious. When I looked into the mirror, my face was as red as a beet. Luckily my husband was home and rushed me to the emergency room.

When I looked at my right hand, I could not even recognize it as a hand. It was so swollen and full of hives. It was just one big, terrible looking lump.

By the time we got to the hospital, my nose and lips were numb, my heart was beating even faster, anxiety was overcoming me and my blood pressure was falling. I felt vague and confused, unable to even tell the nurse my birth date. All of this had happened within 20 to 30 minutes of being stung.

I was rushed into a treatment room and given epinephrine and benadryl, which are anti-histamines, as well as a form of prednisone (a steroid) intravenously. I was monitored closely and kept there for about two and a half to three hours. I was discharged with prescriptions for benadryl and prednisone to take daily for a week. I was also given a prescription for Epipen.

Epipen is a pressure activated syringe device that delivers the correct dose of epinephrine to combat anaphylaxis in the event I ever have an episode such as this again. This should be kept within reach at all times, and replaced yearly.

When I got home, I slept for several hours, but otherwise everything was alright. Needless to say, I felt very grateful.

Some Precautions To Avoid Attracting Flying Insects If You Have Allergy

1. Avoid fragrances, scented, soaps, lotions and oils

2. Avoid wearing bright colors

3. Wear shoes

4. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, and a hat

Related Tags: treatment, allergy, causes, anaphylactic shock, anaphylaxis, yellow jacket bee sting, allergic reaction

Shirley Peel is a successful webmaster and publisher of many articles about acne and health care. Her years in the health care field have honed her interest in these areas. She offers more acne skin care solutions, acne remedies and home treatment information at: and Be sure to sign up for our free ecourse on acne skin care.

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