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Insect Sting Allergies: Who Is Affected

Topic Overview

It is not clear how many people are allergic to insect sting venom, because testing is usually not done until after a first allergic reaction. In other words, you may be allergic to an insect sting and not know it because you haven't been stung by that insect yet.

About 10 out of 100 adults have large, localized allergic reactions to insect stings.1 More serious, systemic (whole-body) reactions occur in about 3 out of 100 adults and less than 1 out of 100 children.2

Allergies to insect stings cause around 40 deaths a year in the U.S., usually in adults over the age of 45 and sometimes in young children.1

It is difficult to predict whether you will have allergic reactions to future stings. After you develop an allergy to an insect's venom, it may become more severe each time you are stung, or you may not have an allergic reaction to the next sting—especially if you received treatment for the first sting allergy. Insect sting allergies may decline or fade over time, particularly in children.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Golden DB (2009). Insect allergy. In NF Adkinson Jr et al., eds., Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1005–1017. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
  2. Golden DB, et al. (2011). Stinging insect hypersensitivity: A practice parameter update 2011. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 127(4): 852–854.e23.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised January 5, 2012

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