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When to Call 911 for an Insect Sting
Call 911 if a person who has been stung experiences:
Insect bites and stings can cause an immediate immune response. The bite from fire ants and the sting from bees, wasps, and hornets can trigger severe reactions.
Insects inject a toxin when they sting that triggers an immune reaction. For some individuals, a sting means a few days of discomfort. Others may experience a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
Typical symptoms include:
In most cases, bites and stings can be easily treated at home.
If the swelling extends far beyond the immediate sting site — affecting the whole arm or leg, for example — you should take your child to a medical provider, as oral cortisone may be required.
Some individuals may have severe or life-threatening reactions. It has been estimated that anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, occurs in 0.4 to 0.8 percent of children and three percent of adults. Insect sting anaphylaxis causes at least 90 to 100 deaths annually.
If a person who has had an insect bite or sting shows any symptoms of anaphylaxis, immediate emergency treatment is needed.
If your child has a severe, body-wide reaction to a bee or other sting, he or she should see an allergist for evaluation and immunotherapy (allergy shots). An emergency epinephrine auto-injector should always be on hand.