How to Handle Severe Reactions to Insect Bites & Stings

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We’ve all been stung by insects before, but how we react to them is on a case-by-case basis. Most people will just feel some minor pain and itching when stung by a bee, wasp or hornet, while others will have a life-threatening reaction. It’s important to understand the warning signs of a person that is allergic to bug bites and to learn how to respond to the situation.

Severe Reactions

A severe reaction to an insect bite may include one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Swollen throat or tongue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Fast pulse
  • Trouble speaking/hoarseness
  • Vomiting, nausea or abdominal pain

The first thing you should do is ensure the person is conscious, and ask if whether they have an allergy to bug bites – if so, also ask whether they carries an EpiPen with them. If the answer is yes to both questions, ask them whether he needs help administering the injection. You’ll also need to call 911 and keep a close eye on the victim to make sure that they are still breathing. Be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
If the person does not have an EpiPen on them, dial 911 immediately and do your best to make the person comfortable. Loosen any tight clothes they may be wearing but do not offer them anything to drink so as to avoid constricting airways. Wait for medical personnel to arrive and let them know about any symptoms you have observed.

For some people, getting bitten by a bug is a life or death situation. Knowing how to handle emergencies such as these is one small part of the first aid training offered at heart2Heart. Learn more about our First Aid/CPR courses by visiting or contact us today to find out about classes in your area.


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