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Discussion Starter #1
Do any of you get stung fairly often with no adverse reactions then all of the sudden get stung once and swell up like a dead hog?

I'm hard headed I guess, but I hate wearing gloves. I own a semi truck/trailer service and sales shop and my hands are rough and calloused, so the skin on my fingers and palms is like leather. I've been stung on the head several times, I get stung on my hands probably 2 out of 3 times that I inspect my hives. No big deal. Hurts a little for a few seconds and itches for a day, normally doesn't swell at all.

One time last year I got stung on the back of my hand and my hand and it swelled up considerably. This past Sunday afternoon I got stung on my wrist. By late evening the back of my hand, the tops of my fingers, and my forearm swelled 2 times its normal size. My arm was bright red and hot to the touch from mid forearm, to the middle of my fingers. The swelling has gone down mostly now, but that's just happened during the day today. I got stung on my left thumb Sunday. There was very little swelling and what was there was gone by Monday morning.

Next 20 times I probably won't swell at all. Does anyone know why my body would react that way just every so often? It's not just bee stings, I have no reaction to mosquito bites ever.
 

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I would run to the doctor and get an allergy evaluation. I take a lot of stings just like you describe but I have never had that kind of a reaction. A good jug of liquid benedryl should live in your beekeeping pocket too. I am not one of these immediately burn all your hives and live in a glass bubble types, just asking you to be a little careful.
 

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For most people the histamines within the body build with each sting exponentially. In other words the histamines from the first sting are joined by more on the second sting, and then the third and so on. They do not go away for years, and only if no further sting occur. It is the histaminic reaction that causes swelling. You will most likely find that if you get stung numerous times at once the swelling will be minimal due to the dispersal of the histamines. By taking an antihistamine one does not build new histamines, or few from each sting minimizing swelling, itching and inflammation from subsequent stings. If you had began using an antihistamine from the get go you would go a long while before the histaminic reaction reached it's current level.
Quit plying the tough guy, and take your Benadryl immediately after a sting. It will be worth it.
 

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If your hands are calloused then chances are a lot of the stings you get may not penetrate into living tissue--limiting the reaction to the venom. Also, the faster you remove a stinger after the sting the less time there is for the poison gland to pump venom into your system--adding to the variability in response. Histamines themselves have a very short half life so constantly taking benadryl will not slow the development of an allergic reaction (but will mute the response to a degree). Allergies develop when the body "decides" that a compound or particle is a foreign invader to your system and mounts an ever increasing innate immune response to the "threat"--which involves the production of histamines, among other compounds. After each exposure the body becomes more primed to react more forcefully to the next "invasion" and an allergic reaction develops.

That being said, w/ your last reaction I would get a sensitivity test done. You may have just been lucky receiving most of your stings on thick skin which limited your exposure (callouses are essentially pads of dead skin on high use areas that develop to prevent the entry of foreign materials during everyday abrasions).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm not trying to play tough guy, I just typically have no need to take anything. My head is hard, but not calloused and I don't swell their either. I got stung on the forehead a couple weeks back. No swelling. I have horrible seasonal allergies and take Allegra nearly every day, that may be one thing that prevents the swelling, although I have never really swelled even before I had to start taking allergy medicine.
 

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Brad Bee, I have about the same swelling that you normally have. On day two of a sting, there is no mark, and I seldom have any itching. But, once in a while I have a sting on the back of my hand that swells, but not to the extent that you describe. The back of my hand just looks puffy. That's the only place that that bee stings make me swell. I have been stung on the head, neck and legs, but they do not swell or leave a mark. I don't know the answer to your question, but I would at a minimum report your swelling to your family physician and get his opinion. Think of your family and loved ones and take care of yourself. Remember, many others are depending on you.
 

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Bees are smart. They are going to sting you in a vulnerable spot if they can get to it. Bees can detect inferred so I suspect they are looking for warm spots like veins. If they can get a vein or capillary the reaction will travel and be much worse. They are not going to sting your callused hand if you got a nice warm spot on the back.
 

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I don't usually wear gloves and get stung all the time. Early march I did an inspection and got
Hit once on each hand. Got hot all over, turned bright red, face started swelling, then I got itchy all over before I broke out in hives. Hundreds of stings over the last 15 years and nothing until now. The Drs at the emergency room didn't offer any explanation either.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Dodger, that's why I have an epi pen for each member of my family. Your next sting, or mine, or anyone elses could result in anaphylactic shock. I know a guy who had eaten shellfish his whole life. One night he ate some shrimp and almost died. No warning, no buildup.

I do not think my symptoms are headed toward anaphylaxis but yours sounds like it could be. However, I am not a medical professional, so basically I know nothing about that. LOL
 

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I would never tell anyone to Not see a doctor in the OPs case, so dont take the below to be advice to not do so. Dodger, in your case, you most certainly need to see a doctor/allergist, your next sting could be your last.

Anyway, I have found this article to be an excellent source of bee sting allergy information (its a PDF file):

http://wncbees.org/Reference/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=75

I am a fellow Large Local reaction sufferer and for me Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, Clarinex do nothing to relieve my symptoms. An ER doctor recommended, and this does work well for a friend of mine, to take Benadryl and Pepcid (which is another type of antihistamine that wotks just a little differently) in combination to be more effective. There is much much more to the whole allergic response than just Histamines (which BTW Do Not build up in your system. Other things such as IgE antibodies, which attract the Mast cells which are responsible for the release of histamine among many other compounds, can build up and can be the cause of increasing worsening reactions). For me, as is the case for the author of the above article, a leukotriene-receptor antagonist such as Singular (which is not over the counter) lessens my reaction. And another thing that has served me well (to shoot down my wifes concern about my having a worsening allergic reaction!) is the fact that those who suffer Large Local reactions actually have the lowest potential of developing a serious Anaphylactic allergic response down the road.

Inspite of this, please Do see your doctor!
 
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