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Insect Sting Allergies

The allergy specialists at UPMC in central Pa. offer diagnostic testing and treatment for children and adults with insect sting allergies.

Why choose UPMC in Central Pa. for insect sting allergy treatment?

Our specialists provide comprehensive treatment for insect sting allergies. We offer a full range of diagnostic and treatment services to help you understand and manage your insect sting allergies, including:

Diagnostic Tests for Insect Sting Allergies

  • Skin testing. Skin testing, also called scratch testing, exposes your skin to small amounts of allergy-causing substances (allergens) and can identify insect sting allergies.
  • Blood tests. Blood tests measure the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood that are specific to certain allergens. Although blood tests are not as exact as skin tests, your doctor may use them in combination with skin tests to diagnose and treat your allergy.

Medications for Insect Sting Allergies

  • Allergy medications. Some medications may be able to help control mild allergic reactions to insect stings, but may not be suitable if you have a severe or life-threatening allergy. Before you use any allergy medication, you should ask your doctor if it is right for your condition and symptoms.
  • Epinephrine (EpiPen or Auvi-Q). If you are at risk of experiencing a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, your doctor may prescribe an injectable emergency medication called epinephrine. Epinephrine is usually given at the first sign of a severe allergic reaction, followed by emergency medical treatment. Your doctor will provide specific information about when and how you should use epinephrine.

Allergen Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots) for Insect Sting Allergies

  • Allergy shots are injections that contain a small dose of allergens, or substances that trigger allergic reactions. The shots are given at regular intervals to prevent or reduce allergic reactions. With each shot, your health care provider will increase the dose of allergens. This helps your immune system get used to the allergens and may eventually cause your allergy symptoms to decrease.
  • Patient Education for Insect Sting Allergies

    • Our specialists provide the education and information you need to manage your insect sting allergy, including training on administering emergency medications, developing an allergy action plan, and making recommendations for how you can prevent allergic reactions.

    Inset Sting Allergy Testing & Treatment at UPMC

    What are insect sting allergies?

    Insect sting allergies occur when your body has an immune reaction to the venom of a stinging insect after you are stung. Common insect sting allergies include:

    • Bees
    • Hornets
    • Wasps
    • Yellow jackets
    • Fire ants

    What are the symptoms of insect sting allergies?

    Symptoms of insect sting allergies are caused by your body’s immune reaction to the insect’s venom and can range from mild to life-threatening.

    Just about everyone who is stung by an insect develops itching, pain, or swelling at the site of the sting, but people who are allergic to insect stings develop more serious symptoms, which may include:

    • Hives, itching, and swelling in areas other than the site of the sting
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Difficulty breathing
    • A feeling of tightness in the chest
    • Hoarse voice, tightness in the throat, or difficulty swallowing as a result of swelling in the throat or tongue

    The most serious type of allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis, which can occur within minutes and is potentially life-threatening. Anaphylaxis causes dizziness, a sharp drop in blood pressure and, in some cases, loss of consciousness or cardiac arrest.

    Who is at risk for insect sting allergies?

    If you have had an allergic reaction to an insect sting in the past, you are more likely to have a similar or more severe reaction if you are stung in the future. Adults also are more likely to have a severe reaction to an insect sting than children.

    How can I prevent insect sting allergies?

    Although there is nothing you can do to prevent the allergy itself, you may be able to prevent allergic reactions by taking steps to avoid insect stings and following your doctor’s advice regarding treatment of known insect sting allergies.



    UPMC Allergy and Immunology
    Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
    21 Waterford Drive
    Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

    Phone: 717-988-9180
    Fax: 717-775-5723


    Need more information?

    Many of our providers offer video visits. Call the office or schedule via your patient portal.

    Phone: 717-988-9180

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