The Downside of Summer
Most of us love a bit of sun. Life is easier – BBQ’s, picnics, ice creams and drinks in the pub garden. But what we all forget is along with these activities comes the arrival of the bloody wasp population, sent to ruin our fun.
My children have all been stung by wasps and bees over the years, with little consequence, other than a bit of moaning and mild discomfort resolved by a dab of sting cream. I had assumed we were in the clear as far as allergy was concerned, but last week we had a very different experience when my eldest daughter was stung again.
A Rude Awakening
The stripy little ‘pest’ (I want to use a different word but don’t want to offend anyone) stung her in her sleep, having flown in through an open window during the recent hot weather. Initially she had a mark on her shoulder and after an antihistamine tablet we all headed back to bed.
A few minutes later she reappeared at our bedroom door complaining of severe itching and red spots over her trunk and arms. The itching of her palms was the worst although there was nothing to see. As an ex-nurse I was immediately concerned and called 999 knowing that if it worsened it would become a time-critical emergency.
The emergency call operator was fantastic and spoke reassuringly to her, and me, and told us an ambulance was on its way. We sat downstairs and waited. She was now complaining of a painful, tight chest as well as further hives, flushed skin and itching – all common symptoms of a wasp sting allergy.
The paramedics arrived quickly and were impressively efficient. She was given an injection of an antihistamine and, although she didn’t need adrenaline as it wasn’t a full-blown anaphylaxis, we were told she is now officially allergic to wasp stings! They stayed with her for a surprisingly long time and she was allowed a cold shower to relieve the itching once they were satisfied that her blood pressure was stable. They then checked her vital signs again and headed off into the night at around 3.30am.
GP and Pest Control
The following day we arranged for a pest control company to treat two wasp nests we discovered in our roof. We then visited the GP who prescribed her an Emerade pre-filled adrenaline pen (similar to an Epipen) and some tips on reducing the risk of being stung, particularly never to walk around with bare feet outside and to respond super-quickly if she is stung again.
We were reassured that this reaction would not automatically be worse the next time, but with an allergy it was definitely a possibility.
Most importantly BE AWARE
The moral of my story is that if your kids get stung it will most likely be fine, but don’t get caught out. Anyone is at risk of an allergy even if they have been stung before without a bad reaction. Make sure your children have someone with them for a while afterwards (severe reactions usually happen within the first ten minutes) and be aware of the immediate signs of an allergic reaction – it could save their life one day.
Official Advice from the NHS
- Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days.
- Insect bites and stings will usually cause a red, swollen lump to develop on the skin. This may be painful and in some cases can be very itchy.
- The symptoms will normally improve within a few hours or days, although sometimes they can last a little longer.
- Some people have a mild allergic reaction and a larger area of skin around the bite or sting becomes swollen, red and painful. This should pass within a week.
- Occasionally, a severe allergic reaction can occur, causing symptoms such as breathing difficulties, dizziness and a swollen face or mouth. This requires immediate medical treatment.
- itching or hives in places other than the site of the sting
- nausea or vomiting
- breathing difficulties
- swollen face or mouth.
- Dial 999 for an ambulance immediately if you have these symptoms.
NHS Choices have some good advice about how to deal with bites and stings