The Doctor's Blog for May 2017:

 Taking the Sting out of Summer:
Navigating Stinging Insect Anaphylaxis

"There is no greater satisfaction than making a vast improvement in the quality of a patient’s life who has suffered from dangerous food or insect allergies."  -Dr. Santilli

Summer is finally here!  This means more time outside and more exposure to those pesky stinging insects.  A sting from a bee, wasp, hornet, or fire ant is never pleasant.  But occasionally, a sting can produce a life threatening allergic reaction called anaphalaxis.  One question that we receive over and over again is, “How can I tell the difference between a normal reaction, and a potentially life threatening reaction or anaphalaxis?”  Normal reactions to a sting or bite will include swelling, redness and pain at the site of the bite or sting .  These reactions can sometimes exceed 3 inches in diameter, and although very large and uncomfortable, are not associated with an anaphylactic reaction.  An anaphylactic reaction will involve organs distant from the site of the sting or bite.  The anaphylactic reaction may be limited to the skin (hives/large area of swelling/flushing) or in the worst possible scenario, cause swelling of the respiratory tract making it difficult to breath or swallow, and/or a drop in blood pressure.  Anaphylactic reactions rapidly escalate into life threatening situations.  If you or a loved one show signs of an anaphylactic reaction don’t delay calling 911.  Get help as soon as possible.  In Texas, because an emergency clinic or hospital can be quite a distance away, our legislators passed House Bill 1550.  This law enables all pharmacists to administer epinephrine for life saving help.   Because if a patient is having an anaphylactic reaction, seconds matter.

Treatment includes: Emergency Room care for severe reactions, and the use of self-injectable epinephrine for any future systemic reactions.  Venom Immunotherapy (allergy shots), are 98% effective for reducing the likelihood of systemic reactions with future stings. A Board Certified Allergist/Immunologist is trained to evaluate and manage this allergy and provide patient support, education and treatment.  With proper treatment, patients and their families can enjoy outdoor activities without the constant fear and worry of a serious allergic reaction.