Insect stings may be critical; listed here are the signs to observe for

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Q: My family spends more time outdoors. What should we know if one of us is stung by an insect?

A: For most people, when insects bite you, it is normal to feel swelling, redness, pain, and itching around the bite. Unfortunately, some people have a strong allergic reaction to the sting. Here is a guide:

* Mild reactions generally include redness, pain, and swelling around the bite, and itching around the bite or other parts of the body

* Large (local) reactions may include redness and swelling that affects an entire arm, leg, or large part of your body, and swelling that increases for up to 48 hours.

* Severe reactions can include hives; Swelling of the tongue, throat, or other parts of the body; Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate treatment.

If you know you have a stinging insect allergy, try to avoid insects. If you get stung, inject epinephrine immediately if symptoms of anaphylaxis appear. Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are also recommended as a long-term treatment.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends the following additional precautions to avoid insect bites:

* Avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot in the grass.

* Never hit a flying insect.

* When eating or drinking outdoors, try to keep food and drinks covered.

* Avoid sweet smelling perfumes and deodorants.

* Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing.

Always keep your prescribed medication handy and follow instructions if you get a sting. These drugs can be used immediately on the way to the emergency room for observation and further treatment.

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, make an appointment with an allergist. With appropriate tests, your allergist can diagnose your allergy and determine the best method of treatment.

Syeda Hamadani, MD, is an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Group in Galen and a member of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society.

Photo Contributed / Dr. Syeda Hamadani