Severe life threatening reactions to an insect sting, also known as anaphylaxis, can occur following one or several insect stings. Acute treatment is with Epinephrine (Epi-Pen or Twinject) and immediate transport to emergency care, since these reactions can rapidly progress and even be fatal.
Following a possible severe insect reaction allergy testing and, if appropriate, instructions in insect avoidance and venom immunotherapy (allergy shots) will be discussed. Generally, if untreated, venom reactions in adults either repeat or potentially worsen, therefore prompt evaluation following a reaction is vitally important.
Venom immunotherapy is extremely effective in preventing severe reactions in sensitive individuals. This protection takes about 3 months to be obtained and is then maintained with monthly injections. Current guidelines recommend a 5 year course of venom immunotherapy for individuals that experience a milder reaction and life-long therapy if the reaction is severe and life-threatening.