The Biting Truth about Insect Allergies

Insect Summer is here, which means that so are the bugs, and unfortunately, bug bites. Getting bit or stung is uncomfortable for everyone, but for some people, it can be deadly. Insect and bug allergies can range from mild to severe, the latter of which needing immediate medical attention.

How do you know if you are having an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting?

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction. For most people, a sting or bite causes some pain, itching, swelling and/or redness at the spot. The swelling can spread to a larger area (called large local reaction), but unless it is accompanied by extreme pain, will clear up on it’s own in a few days. However, if the extended spot is really painful, antihistamines and corticosteroids might be prescribed to make you more comfortable.

In the case of a severe allergic reaction, you will need immediate help. The American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology (ACAAI) lists the following symptoms of a severe reaction:

  • Hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site
  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing
  • Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue or throat, or difficulty swallowing
  • Anaphylaxis

The good news is that a severe reaction is rare and most bites and stings will heal on their own within a few hours or days. Of course the best way to deal with bug bites is to not get them at all. But unfortunately, that’s not that easy and if you do get stung, WebMD offers some at-home first-aid (including what to do if the little pest left its stinger behind).  If you search online, you can also find natural remedies such as ice, honey, garlic, menthol, banana and essential oils that can help with discomfort.

If you think you’ve had an allergic reaction to an insect in the past, consult an allergist such as our expert team at CT Sinus Center. When you come in our staff will take a detailed history of your medical history and past reactions. Next, we’ll provide a series of test to find out exactly what and how severe your allergy is. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll provide you with an individualized treatment plan that will help take the sting out of your allergy.

Call CT Sinus Center today at 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you keep allergies from bugging you.

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions and treatments, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.

Is Honey The Bee’s Knees of Allergy Treatments?

HoneyFor years, people have been raving about the relieving effects that local, raw (unprocessed) honey has on allergies. But does it really work as well as they allege it does? While we would like to say “yes,” especially as incentive to help end the ongoing bee crisis, unfortunately, these claims are unfounded.  

The reasoning behind this myth is similar to the reasoning behind why allergy shots (immunology) work: When the allergens are introduced a little at a time over time, the body builds an immunity to them. So if you consider it in this way:

  1. Bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers that the person is exposed to daily.
  2. The nectar and pollen are converted into honey.
  3. Person ingests the local honey over a period of time.
  4. The exposure to the honey causes immunity.

In theory, this makes sense. Unfortunately according to major medical sources (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Mayo Clinic and WebMD, the theory is a little sour. Here’s why:

  1. There is no way of telling how much pollen, if any, is in the honey.
  2. While you can control allergen dosage and its progression with allergy shots, you have no way of knowing how much is actually in the honey.
  3. Bees mostly collect nectar and pollen from the type of flowers that don’t typically cause allergies. Most allergies come from tree and grass pollen, which is actually airborne.

In fact, ingesting raw honey can actually be harmful under the following conditions:

  1. In a child under 12 months old, it can cause infant botulism.
  2. It can cause a mild to severe allergic reaction.

In processed commercial honey, bee parts, mold spores, pollen and bacteria are all removed because they are considered the “junk” parts.

Does this mean that honey just has placebo effects or that you shouldn’t ingest it at all?

Actually, no. Honey, aside from being delicious, has many beneficial properties, for example, anti-inflammatory effects. So if you think honey is working to make you feel better, you’re right. So go ahead and get some of that fresh local honey that they’ll be selling during the upcoming fair season, and for more information on the great qualities of honey, visit “Benefits of Honey.”

The debunking of the myth does mean, however, that you need another solution for your allergies, and at CT Sinus Center, we have a permanent one. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians to see what we can do for you. When you come in, we’ll take the time to sit down with you and discuss your symptoms before doing thorough diagnostic testing to see exactly what is triggering your allergies. Next, in easy-to-understand language, we’ll explain our findings and treatment options. Finally, we’ll develop an individualized treatment plan that will bring sweet relief from allergies in no time. You may even be a candidate for one of our two outpatient procedures, both of which will end your suffering in around an hour:

  1. Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, promoting draining and natural healing
  2. Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices, and let us help you “bee” free from allergies.

For more information on sinus– and allergy-related conditions and treatments, visit the CT Sinus Center website and blog.