One in 20 Americans is now allergic to insect stings and the number of people who suffer from potentially lethal reactions is rising.
That’s the conclusion of a new report in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The authors also note that most people who are allergic to insect stings don’t know it and may not realize there is something they can do about it to reduce the deadly risks such allergies pose.
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"While it does not always cure insect sting allergy, venom immunotherapy, a form of allergy shots, can almost always prevent severe reactions to stings," said David Golden, M.D. "It usually provides long-lasting immunity even after the treatment is stopped."
He added that allergy sufferers who have had a reaction to an insect sting should be under the care of a board-certified allergist.
"For those with severe reactions, prescribed emergency epinephrine should always be carried," said Dr. Golden. "Sufferers should also talk with their allergist to see if venom immunotherapy is right for them. It's not always a cure, but it is close."
As with other forms of allergy shots, the recommended duration of venom immunotherapy is three to five years. To reduce the chance of getting stung by late summer insects, experts advise:
- Cover up with pants and long-sleeved shirts when gardening or working outdoors.
- Avoid walking barefoot in the grass.
- Take caution when eating or drinking anything sweet.
- Don't wear sweet smelling perfumes, hairsprays, and deodorants when heading outdoors.
- Avoid brightly colored clothing with floral patterns.
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