Does Your Child Have A Potentially Deadly Allergy To Bee Stings? What Every Parent Should Know

Michelle Hopkins

Spring, summer, and fall activities can turn dangerous if your child is one of the millions of people who have a severe stinging insect allergy. For these youngsters, the possible presence of a bee, wasp, hornet, or other stinging insect can take all the fun out of normal outdoor activities. According to information published by the Boston Children's Hospital, there may be as many as two million people in the United States alone who are allergic the sting of bees and other stinging insects. Unfortunately, many of those who have allergies are children and even worse, their parents may not be aware of their allergic status.

What happens when someone with an allergy is stung by a bee?

Bee stings are almost always painful, even for those with no allergic reactions. For an allergy sufferer, however, a bee sting can quickly morph into bee poisoning, a common term for apitoxin or apis virus poisoning. 

Instead of being subjected to only pain, itching and localized discomfort, a child (or adult) who is allergic to the sting of a bee or other variety of stinging insect may immediately experience much more intense, or even life threatening symptoms. These can include:

  • more intense swelling, particularly of the face, lips, or throat 
  • fainting, feelings of dizziness, and nausea or vomiting
  • pain, including headache and abdominal cramping
  • difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • an increase in heart rate and/or a drop in blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness, coma, and even death from anaphylaxis

A reaction to bee or insect stings that includes any of these reactions are signs that the person is intensely allergic to the poison injected during the sting and the situation must be viewed as a medical emergency. 

How can parents determine if their child is allergic to bee stings without suffering a sting? 

Parents who want to protect their children from the potential health risks of a bee sting can take the precaution of having the child tested for the allergy. Safe and simple, the procedure injects a minute amount of extracted bee venom into the skin of the arm or back. Children who are not allergic to bees will have no reaction, while those who are allergic will have some level of reaction, such as a raised bump at the injection site. Parents whose children test positive for bee allergies will then be better positioned to protect their child from the threat of a bee sting during their daily activities, as well ensuring that medical attention is sought immediately if a sting should occur. 

For more information about bee sting allergies, as well as testing and treatment options, parents should speak with their child's medical care provider.