Venom and anaphylaxis

While many people experience a local reaction, insect stings can be life-threatening for others.

In allergic individuals, insect stings can lead to anaphylaxis with symptoms ranging from respiratory difficulties to a loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis is an emergency.

It is estimated that 10% of the population will develop an allergic reaction to venom released by a stinging insect (source: https://www.uclahealth.org/allergy/venom-hypersensitivity).

Venom allergies

Yves, living beyond venom allergies

“I clearly remember the day I found out I had become allergic to wasps. I was working alone in my barn in the country when I was stung.

Having never experienced a reaction to wasp stings before, I simply applied some vinegar to the sting to relieve the pain. Shortly afterwards, I started feeling dizzy. I was nauseous and had pins and needles in my feet. I quickly called a neighbor to take me to the hospital. When my neighbor arrived, I was already unconscious. I spent the next 24 hours in intensive care – what I had experienced was anaphylactic shock.

It was an extremely traumatic experience as much for me as for my family. I really thought that I wasn’t going to make it.

On the doctor’s advice, I underwent allergy testing that revealed I was allergic to wasp venom and I started allergy immunotherapy.

A year later, I was stung by a wasp again, and experienced anaphylactic shock for a second time. The symptoms were less severe after the second sting, but I still spent four hours in intensive care.

Then, eight months after that, I was stung yet again – even though I hadn’t been stung since the age of 20! This time though, I experienced no allergic reaction.”