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Insect Allergies Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

An allergy to biting and stinging insects can affect the area around the bite or sting and cause:

  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Hotness

Anaphylaxis can be a life-threatening reaction that causes:

  • Skin rash, hives, itching, swelling in areas away from the sting site
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, face, throat, and eyelids
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Severe drop in blood pressure
  • Respiratory and/or cardiac arrest

Some insects cause respiratory allergies that result in:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most diagnoses are based on a history of a reaction after a sting.

Tests include:

  • Skin prick test—An extract of the insect's venom or protein is diluted. The dilute is placed on your forearm or back skin. If there is swelling or redness, an allergic reaction may be present. The doctor will make the diagnosis based on the skin test and your history of symptoms. Some skin tests can have a severe allergic reaction. This test should only be used under the supervision of a physician or other trained medical personnel. Severe eczema may make this test hard to interpret.
  • RAST or ELISA test—The doctor may order blood tests (RAST or ELISA). These tests measure the level of insect-specific IgE in the blood. IgE is a type of protein that the body produces when it comes in contact with something it is allergic to. The presence of IgE in the blood may indicate an allergy.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2018 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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