Bees produce venom and if a bee stings you, it will inject the venom into your skin. The toxin is carried quickly in the blood and causes an immune reaction as a foreign substance. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from a bee sting, more likely than not you will suffer from a burning pain at the site, along with swelling, redness and itching. This will go away in a few hours, much like other insect bites. But if you are among the unlucky 10 percent of the population you will suffer from more serious allergic reactions.
These can include:
- Swelling which increases and takes as much as 10 days to resolve
- Flushing of the skin
- Dryness in the mouth and throat accompanied by tingling and itching
- Intense itching
- Nausea and/or vomiting
These reactions may subside with time and prescribed or over the counter medications, usually oral (anti allergy medications) and topical (creams and ointments to reduce the swelling and itchiness).
For three percent of the population bee stings can be serious and need immediate medical attention. And even if you have been stung before and not suffered much of a reaction or had a minor reaction, you can still be susceptible to a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms of this usually occur within minutes and can be fatal if not treated.
Be wary if you have (or anyone around you has) tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue, large wheals (hives) all over the body, dizziness or fainting and even a heart attack and seek immediate medical help. If you have a history of reactions to bee stings, your doctor may advise you to carry an emergency epinephrine pen with you at all times, and specially when you are traveling or going outdoors.