A bee’s sting leads to venom being introduced into the victim’s skin through the stinger of the bee. In most cases, it is found that the stinger is left within the skin. It is essential to note that there is no anti venom available for bee sting treatment. A bee’s sting evokes two broad types of reactions in the sufferer:
- A localised reaction
- A systemic allergic reaction
The first is the most common response, which leads to the skin taking on a redden appearance and also being quite painful. In addition, the person may experience swelling or itching. These symptoms are known to subside within a few hours.
If the localised reaction takes on a severe form, namely a large localised reaction, the aforementioned symptoms will persist for a longer period of time (approximately a week) and the skin surrounding the infected area may also be affected.
The second category of reactions causes the entire body to be in distress; it occurs as the body is allergic/extra-sensitive to the venom of the bee. This response is accompanied by nausea, light-headedness, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The victim may also experience hives and swelling in areas of the body which are located away from the site of the sting.
The severe, serious and at times fatal form of an allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, and is most observed in individuals who have a history of allergic responses to previous stings. Multiple stings are known to augment the likelihood of anaphylaxis. The onset of the reaction is within an hour (maximum) of the sting. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure and other vitals that can culminate in shock. Most bee stings can be treated at home; however systemic allergic reactions require specific bee sting treatment.
Bee sting treatment for a nip with no signs of allergic reactions includes first aid wound care (cleaning with water and antiseptic ointment). The stinger should be removed as early as possible and medication can be taken for the pain, swelling and itchiness (Benadryl, Tylenol, calamine lotion). Applying an ice pack on the area may also provide relief. Treatment for such localised reactions can be given at home itself.
For a systemic allergic reaction, antihistamine or steroids may be administered. An epinephrine injection can also be given. Hospitalisation may be required based on severity of symptoms, where the patient will be kept under observation to rule out a severe reaction.
Bee sting treatment for an anaphylactic reaction must be timely as this is a life-endangering situation. The line of treatment followed generally is a tracheal intubation. Steroid, epinephrine and antihistamine injections are also resorted to. The patient is provided with IV fluids. Close observation perhaps in the intensive care unit is indicated for most victims. Victims are also advised as a part of routine bee sting treatment to get a tetanus immunization shot if the last shot has been given more than 10 years prior.
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