Signs and Symptoms of a Bee Sting Allergy (Anaphylaxis)

If you are determined to contribute to the environment and provide a bee-friendly garden for our buzzy friends, you will have to remain a little cautious. Bees tend to sting when they sense a threat to their hive or when you get in the way of their pollinating activities.

If you happen to disrupt the bees’ peace while they are trying to gather their food, you will be stung. And on the off-chance that happen to have an allergy to a bee sting, you are in for a lot of pain! 😱

If an allergy from a bee sting is unattended to, it might lead to death in rare cases. Therefore, we are bringing the first few signs and symptoms of bee sting allergies one experiences to your notice. 

What can cause a bee allergy in humans?

Usually, an allergy will stem from a bee sting if the stinger is filled with venom. However, bees are seldom venomous, and a single sting from them does not have life-threatening implications.

However, if you have been stung multiple times at once or have an allergic reaction to bee stings, this matter might be a little sensitive. With a bee allergy, immediate medical attention must be given to the person suffering from it. Specific measures are to be taken to avoid this kind of incident in the future.

All bee sting allergic reactions do not take place with the same intensity. It takes place with different intensities in different people.

The severity of allergic reactions to bee stings

1. Mild Symptoms

If you are stung by a bee, you will inevitably experience some mild symptoms that can be treated at home itself. If you have decided to have a bee-friendly garden at home, you have to be prepared for attacks that are an inevitable part of it.

Pain or itching at the place where you have been stung is the first mild symptom you will notice. This is similar to a bug or a mosquito bite, where it is common to want to scratch and rub the area.

The second mild symptom that you will come across is slight whitening of the area where you have been stung. This indicates that there is no blood flow in that area. This is similar to a pinch, where the place you are pinched turns white and then restores its colour once the blood flow has regularized. In the case of a bee sting, the blood circulation cannot be regularized until the stinger has been taken out,

Another common mild symptom that you will notice after you have been stung by a bee is reddening and swelling of the area where you have been stung. This is a common reaction of your skin to any bug or mosquito bite.

These mild symptoms are not life-threatening and can be taken care of with some over-the-counter medicines and instant first aid.

2. Severe Symptoms

In cases with severe symptoms after a bee sting, it is likely that you have an allergic reaction to it, and immediate medical attention must be called upon.

Many times after being stung by a bee, you might observe paling of the skin. This is the first sign of an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Other symptoms include dizziness and sudden unconsciousness. Rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and diarrhoea are also severe symptoms of a bee sting.

In case these symptoms arise, it implies that you are having a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting. If these symptoms continue to increase, it is wise to contact the doctor.

When are you more prone to bee stings?

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Bee stings are an inevitable occurrence in case you are maintaining a bee-friendly garden to allow active pollination. These situations are: 

  • You have a bee-friendly garden in your backyard. 
  • In case there is an active pollination process going on in your garden, where bees are actively participating. 
  • If you are spending too much time in your bee-friendly garden, you might likely be stung by a bee if you get in the way of their pollination process. Just let them bee!
  • According to Mayo Clinic, adults are more prone to bee stings than babies.

Being mindful of these situations would help you be prepared for any unwanted bee stings. If you are allergic to bees, you should always carry a bee-safety kit with you when you go out. 

What chemicals in a bee sting trigger our pain receptors?

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We all know the pain that entails a bee sting and possible complications after a bee sting. However, it is natural to be inquisitive and learn about what causes such adverse effects after a bee sting in humans. 

Bee venom consists of 88% water. This highly soluble compound works best on moist tissue, so the venom can be dispersed effectively. Unfortunately, humans have moist tissues, which means that the venom works very well on humans.

The chemical that causes the ‘OUCH‘ reaction is called melittin, which makes up 50% of the venom’s dry content in the bee sting. Unfortunately, this is not the only chemical that activates your pain receptors. Melittin, coupled with another protein compound called phospholipase, contributes to causing the venom to spread faster in human tissues. The phospholipase constitutes 12% of the toxin.

Wait! It’s not over. There is one more chemical involved in this equation that causes skin allergy. This is called histamine, which constitutes 9% of the venom. Histamine causes your tiny capillaries to leak fluid. 

How does the venom spread?

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As soon as the melittin and phospholipase enter into the bloodstream after the bee sting, it ruptures the red blood cells that it comes in contact with, thereby allowing the blood vessels to expand. This reaction causes swelling and redness around the area. The phospholipase causes destruction to cell membranes. 

Want to know an interesting fact that will blow your mind

Only female bees can sting, and their stinger is a modified ovipositor

However, you are not the only one who is affected by their sting. A bee will never sting unless it senses a threat. Once they sting, they cannot retract their stinger. Once a bee stings you, it dies. The stinger must be removed at once. Otherwise, it will keep pumping venom into the bloodstream.

Koschevnikov Gland: What is it useful for?

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Another vital part of the bee sting is the Koschevnikov Gland, which is the gland near the sting shack in a bee that releases the alarm hormone. Alarm hormones are like a home security system for the bees. 

Once one bee lets out the hormone, the other bees behind it start moving faster and buzzing louder. This is when they are most likely to sting, so you must stay away from them. 

FAQ

  1. How soon do you see signs of an allergy to a bee sting? 

    If a person is allergic to bee stings, he or she is likely to experience allergy symptoms after 10 to 30 minutes. This depends on the bee sting’s intensity and how much venom entered the individual before the bee was thwarted off. 
  1. What are the early signs of an allergic reaction to bee sting? 

    If someone is having an allergic reaction to a bee sting, the first symptoms that he or she is likely to experience is paleness of the skin, shortness of breath, and nausea. Other signs include headaches, losing consciousness continuously, and projectile vomiting coupled with diarrhoea. 

Final thoughts 

Bees are busy creatures and have daily targets to meet in terms of how much nectar they can secure for their hives. They do not WANT to sting humans. It is only when anyone hinders the pollination process that they get aggressive. This is because bees put their hive’s protection above everything else. 

If you are having an allergic reaction to bee stings, you must consult your doctor immediately.

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