Hi! I am new to the board. I was stung on the arm by a bee (I think) about 10 years ago and my arm swelled from my fingers to my shoulder, but I had no other bad symptoms. I finally got an epi-pen this past fall as a "just in case" precaution.
Well, last week I was stung on my lower back by a wasp. Within seconds I had a rash about six inches in diameter around the site. About eight minutes later, I started to feel really dizzy and my heart started racing. I did not have any trouble breathing. Soon after that, I started feeling light-headed and having momentary feelings of blacking out. I started to feel the "impending sense of doom" that is often experienced in an anaphylactic reaction. I went to get my epi-pen and could not remember how to use it. I tried to read the directions but it was like reading Chinese because I couldn't think straight. I finally got the caps off and went to stick it in my leg, but in my confusion I managed to have it upside down and stuck it in my finger instead (which is not a good thing to do, but the epi still worked and my finger survived)!
Anyway...right after that I called 911, as I was home alone with two small children. When the ambulance arrived, I was so shaken up and panicky that I started to hyperventilate. They gave me oxygen, checked my vitals, etc. My lungs were clear, and at no time during any of this did I feel my throat swelling or have trouble breathing. They took me to the ER, where I was given antihistimines and steroids via IV. I felt sooo much better after the IVs.
The ER doctor said he thought I might have had an anapyhlactic reaction, but they could not be sure since I gave myself the epi and did not have the typical breathing difficulties. Another doctor said there was a possibility I had had a panic attack after getting stung. I have never had a panick attack before, and I really do think I had an allergic reaction, but now I am not sure. I have an appointment with an allergist but can't get in for a month, and I would love to hear others' opinions. By the way, when I got home from the ER, I noticed I had a rash covering my entire back, up to my shoulder blades. I continued to feel a bit out of it for the next 12 hours or so.
What do you think? Was this most likely a reaction, or a panic attack? If you have had an anaphylactic reaction, what were your symptoms? Thanks!
Wasp stings typically do not cause anaphalactic shock. Bee venom is different and can cause it. However, wasps do cause reactions such as what you experienced with the rash. I too think the rest was most likely a panic or anxiety attack since you thought the same thing might be happening. A quick dose of benedryl -preferably the liquid - would have done you just as much good and caused a lot less panic than the epi pen!
I'm allergic to bee stings but don't even have an epi pen. They have to be replaced rather often due to expiration dates so I just keep plenty pf benedryl on hand....as suggested by my allergist. I've never had a problem with a wasp sting other than a very localized red, itchy bump about 2-4 inches in diameter.
Thanks for your quick response, Titchou. From everything I've read, wasp venom can indeed cause an anaphylactic reaction, and yellow-jackets can be especially bad, which is what I think stung me. We actually had somebody come spray our house (outside, of course) for wasps this week and he saw several yellow-jackets... yikes! Hopefully we will see less of them now.
Anyway, the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe I did initially have a mild reaction with the dizziness, confusion, rash, and light-headedness, and that I then ended up having a panic attack because of it. I did not feel panicky when I first got stung, only after I started feeling dizzy and lightheaded about 8 minutes after getting stung. I can't wait to see the allergist to get a more definite answer. It would be great if it really was all just one giant panic attack - then I won't have to freak out every time I see a wasp!
Anyone else have any input? I really would like to hear others' experiences, even if they were nothing like mine.
I haven't had an anaphylactic allergic reaction, but I do fear having one. I have only been stung once in my life and my ankle, foot and leg swelled horribly and I needed medical treatment at the time. I've developed horrible allergies since. I worry how another sting will affect me. I carry an Epi-pen for my asthma and allergies so I at least have that measure of comfort that it could give me time to get emergency help.
I had a severe asthmatic attack last year. When it got to the point I couldn't get enough air to speak, I know anxiety kicked in because I started hyperventilating. Luckly I was at the docs by then. He actually gave me a shot of epinepherine to open up my airways fastest. I left with a prescription for steroids and another preventative medicine. I can tell you it was one of the scariest things I've ever been through.
I can see why you would have anxiety when this was happening.
UPDATE: I talked to my allergist yesterday and she said she believes I did have an anaphylactic reaction. Also, after looking up pictures of hives on the internet, I realized that I did actually get hives after the sting, not just a rash. My appointment with the allergist will not be until July now, as she needs to wait at least six weeks from when I got stung to do the venom sting testing. She said I will most likely be a candidate for immuno-therapy (sp?), which I think I will probably do. Anyway... just thought I'd give an update. For now I am armed with my epi and not about to let those pesky insects ruin my summer. Thanks!
Last edited by ScaredofStings; 06-11-2009 at 08:17 PM.
That is interesting!!! My allergist said they will have to do the skin testing first to see exactly which stinging insects I'm allergic to (and to confirm an official allergy). She said venom immunotherapy is about 97% effective in eliminating an allergic response, but that it would be quite a process. I have read info. on this on several different sites as well and it sounds like people are generally happy with it, but some have severe reactions to the injections and have to discontinue. For what other allergies is this treatment available? I actually thought it was only for venom allergies. Anyway, we'll see what I find out in July!
No, it's available for all environmental allergies (dust, mold, cats, dogs, grass, etc). That's what most of them are. They can also do some drug testing - pencillin for example. However, they can't immunize you against it! I'm allergic to penicillin, tetracycline, Z Pak and sulfa drugs. The pennicillin allergy was froom when I was a teenager (40 some odd years ago) and sense I am becoming allergic to other antibiotics that didn't bother me before, my doc wanted to test me to see if I was still allergic to penicillin so he would have something to give me for sinus infections and other upper respiratory ones. I elected not to do it because I had taken penicillin for years as well as the Z pak and the allergy came on all of a sudden with both. Since the penicillin one was anaphalxis, I don't want to risk the same thing happening again....going along fine for a while and then BOOM! It strikes again. It wasn't fun the first time and I'm sure it wouldn;t be again....
Yikes! What do you take for sinus infections, etc. then? My son is already allergic to several antibiotics (no severe reactions yet though) but I can take anything without a problem. I guess I did know about injections for environmental allergies, I just didn't know they were called the same thing. Do you take them? Have they helped?
Well, I haven't had a sinus infection since the Z Pak caused my lips to blister. In fact, none of my docs will give me an antibiotic now unless it's life or death! I had a root canal and they wouldn't give me one.
I've done the shots 3 times in my life (I'm 63 now). It takes 5 years to do a series and they don't last forever - once in my teens, once in my 30's and once in my 50's. They really do well for me.