I was gardening… I was on a picnic… I had my car window open and a bee came in… I accidentally ran over a bees’ nest with the lawnmower; these are all common stories of how many of us get stung by bees.
I have seen my fair share of patients reacting from bee stings expressing mild to moderate symptoms. The real problem is when someone who has never been stung, doesn’t know if he or she is allergic to the deadly venom, or gets stung more than once experiences more deadly symptoms.
One little girl came in and was suffering so bad that her tongue started to swell, blocking her airway so that she was having trouble breathing. She had never been stung before; but since she disturbed a nest and was stung multiple times, she was experiencing deadly symptoms.
My neighbor came to my door as his foot and leg were swelling; he was starting to get very sick and within 15 minutes had hives all over his face. He had only been stung by one bee and was having a deadly reaction. He had never been tested for bee allergies; but if he would have,he would have known he was allergic.
Neither of the above cited cases resulted in death, thank goodness, since they had never been stung before and never realized they were allergic to bees until it was too late.
The best thing that you can do to prevent a scenario as these–and I highly encourage this–is to get yourself tested to see if you or your loved ones are allergic. You can be tested for bee allergies just as you are tested for pollen and pet allergies with a skin test called RAST at your local allergist’s office. This way, you will be prepared with the right antidote should you be allergic to bees.
General Guidelines of What to Do When a Bee Stings You
In the event that you are stung by a bee, your quick action can help you more than you think.
- If you know you are allergic to bees, having an Epipen within reach at all times is highly encouraged. Wearing an ID bracelet stating you are allergic is common.
- If you have never been stung before or do not know if you are allergic to bees, remove the bee’s stinger and apply something cold to the area while paying very close to your symptoms.
- It is very important to locate and remove the stinger from your skin, brushing it carefully instead of pulling out the stinger fiercely. If you do not pull the stinger out then you are letting more of the venom enter your body.
- Once you have removed the stinger, apply a cold rag to the location to get some relief. This will slow the swelling down a great deal.
As you monitor your symptoms, you can then prepare yourself for what to do next.
- Some mild symptoms you experience may include temporary redness and swelling. The area may be itchy for a few days; but that should only last about two weeks. This is not usually life threatening; but if you are feeling any discomfort or just want to make sure, then I suggest you consult a doctor
- Should you start to feel the more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate, or nausea; this should alarm you that something is wrong and you should get yourself to the hospital.
There is no greater thing you can do as a person, caregiver or parent than to protect the lives of those around you including yourself. Knowing if you are allergic to bees and what you can do to help in the event you are stung will help you more than you know. Trust me, I’m a nurse!
Carrie has been working as a nurse for over 15 years. Her passion for nursing and helping people has lead her back to school taking the accelerated rn to bsn degree. In her spare time, you can find her blogging about her experiences at Tales from a Nursing Student.