Oh, how wonderful it is to see green grass and blooming flowers, and to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin again. Summer does not officially begin until June 21st, but all the signs of summer are here. Unfortunately, some of the signs of summer can bring big problems, such as those summer-loving, honey-producing bees (and their stinging relatives), which are already on the move.
Imagine being at your family reunion, having fun, and suddenly feeling a pain on your ankle. You look down and realize that you’ve been stung by a bee. If you are not allergic, treatment would consist of removing the stinger, taking Tylenol or ibuprofen for the pain and discomfort, applying cold compresses or ice to the site for 15 minutes, and/or applying an antihistamine or analgesic cream to site.
Bee stings are unpleasant for everyone, but for some people, they can cause an extreme reaction called anaphylaxis. If you or someone you know is allergic to bee stings, knowing what to do in case of a sting could save lives.
Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction throughout your ENTIRE body. It can present itself with swelling of the face, eyes, lips, and throat, hives, severe itching of the eyes or face, lowered blood pressure, and dilated blood vessels. Within minutes, symptoms may take on an even more serious nature with swallowing and breathing difficulties, abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, or even shock.
Most anaphylactic reactions are related to bee stings, seafood, nuts, and dairy products. Most people that know they have one of these severe allergies carry an EpiPen or other injectable epinephrine. Keep in mind that if you have severe allergies or any other medical condition, you should wear a medical alert bracelet in case you are unable to tell others about your needs.
The number one thing you can do to help others with severe allergies is to educate yourself. Have you ever been in a restaurant, on a plane, or attending an event heard, "are there any medical personnel in the house?” Even if you do not have a medical background or any personal experience with severe allergies, you may save someone’s life with your knowledge.
There is only one rapidly effective treatment for anaphylaxis, and that is epinephrine by injection. Epinephrine is adrenaline and it rapidly reverses anaphylactic symptoms.
If you are near someone who is having an anaphylactic reaction, here are some steps you should take.
- Call 911 immediately.
- Ask if they have an EPI-PEN. If they do, ask if they need help with the injection. Injections are most commonly given in the thigh and usually need to be pressed into the thigh for 5 seconds to ensure the full injection is administered.
- Have the person lie still on his/her back.
- Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket.
- Do not give the person anything to drink.
- If vomiting occurs, turn the person on their side.
- Administer CPR if needed.
Remember that knowledge is power. The more we know, the better we are able to take care of ourselves and others. Keep these instructions in mind and go enjoy those fun-filled family reunions.
Health and Wellness Director