What Are the Symptoms and Risk Factors of Bee Sting?

Q:
What are the symptoms and risk factors of bee sting?

A:
Symptoms
Bee stings can produce different reactions, ranging from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction.

Mild reaction
Most of the time, bee sting symptoms are minor and include:

  • Instant, sharp burning pain at the sting site
  • A red welt at the sting area
  • Slight swelling around the sting area

In most people, the swelling and pain go away within a few hours.

Moderate reaction
Some people who get stung by a bee or other insect have a bit stronger reaction, with signs and symptoms such as:

  • Extreme redness
  • Swelling at the site of the sting that gradually enlarges over the next day or two

Severe allergic reaction
A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to bee stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness

People who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 30 to 60 percent chance of anaphylaxis the next time they’re stung. Talk to your doctor or an allergy specialist about prevention measures such as immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) to avoid a similar reaction in case you get stung again.

Multiple bee stings
If you get stung more than a dozen times, the accumulation of venom may induce a toxic reaction and make you feel quite sick. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Headache
  • A feeling of spinning (vertigo)
  • Convulsions
  • Fever
  • Dizziness or fainting

Risk factors
You’re at increased risk of bee stings if:

  • You live in an area where bees are especially active or with beehives nearby
  • Your work or hobbies require spending time outside
  • You’re more likely to have an allergic reaction to bee stings if you’ve had an allergic reaction to a bee sting in the past, even if it was minor.
  • Adults tend to have more-severe reactions than children do and are more likely to die of anaphylaxis than children are.

 

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.