There is a lot of good information and experiences being related on this thread and a few others which helps people be informed and helps them be prepared to handle the situation correctly. I hope to alleviate fear of getting stung also. Sometimes the unknown is scary.
An allergic reaction to a bee sting would be at least one of the following: difficulty breathing, heart racing, hives way away from the sting site. Use the epi pen if you have one and get to the ER asap. If possible, also take Benedryll asap. Benedryll is important also.
A local reaction would not have the above allergic symptoms, but is rather swelling (even great swelling), itching, redness around sting site, warmth and/or bruising around sting site. It is possible for a local reaction of swelling to cause difficulty breathing just because it is near/in the mouth or neck/throat. Get to the ER for any breathing issues.
Many people (and some doctors) mistakenly think if there is quite a bit of swelling that that must mean they are allergic. That is not true. Great swelling is a sign of a good immune system per apitherapists, etc. In fact, apitherapists like to see swelling as it is an indication that the sting therapy will be effective. Early on in BVT a person may have a great swell and then they no longer get that big reaction as they build up to the bee venom, but the therapy will continue to benefit them.
- Know the signs of anaphylactic shock and how to treat prior to going to ER. (see above)
- Know the symptoms of local reaction to bee sting. (see above)
- Have a plan of action especially if a family member is known to be allergic to bee venom.
- It's true that great swelling is a local reaction and not a sign of an allergic reaction.
- Bee venom is used in BVT for medical purposes. More research is needed.
- An allergy can develop even in previously stung non-allergic people.
- People tend to get worse with each allergic reaction.
- A local reaction is just that, local and not to be confused with allergic reaction.
- Benedryll is very important and should be taken immediately by someone having an allergic reaction; and epi pen should be used in event of allergic reaction. Benedryll can also be used by non-allergic people to relieve symptoms of itching and swelling.
- People can be allergic to wasp stings while not allergic to honeybee stings and vice versa.
- Only 5% of visits to the ER due to allergic reactions from a sting involve honeybees.
- Benedryll will alleviate discomfort. However, the benefit of the bee venom will diminish if Benedryll is taken. (For those using stings for medicinal purposes and not allergic)
- A person can be built up to venom to the point where when stung on a regular basis will have no or almost no symptoms of local reaction of swelling or itching.
- People undergoing BVT get a test sting which is removed almost immediately. If they show no allergy after 20 minutes, they can proceed with the BVT program. They will sting 2 to 3x a week, building up the number of stings each time. There is no need for further test stings unless they go 2 weeks without stinging. In that case, the process starts over beginning with a test sting.
- People can be desensitized to bee venom by an allergist or by BVT methods.
- A person's local reaction to occasional stings can vary from sting to sting.
- Allergic reactions tend to get worse each time.
- Some medications (Beta blockers) greatly reduce effectiveness of epi pens.
- Icing an area prior to stinging it (BVT) makes a big difference in the pain. It takes the big punch and knocks it down (sometimes entirely) and then it may be felt for a bit longer than an un-iced sting.
- People practicing BVT sting the following areas: Spine (nerve pathways), specific locations (joints, etc.) and trigger points along other nerve pathways in the body.
Also, check out these two threads on the Apitherapy forum...
1. Got a sting - BAD reaction - advice needed!
2. Bee sting question