Getting stung by bees has haunted our dreams ever since that traumatic scene in My Girl when we watched Macaulay Culkin die in a sudden swarm of crazed bees in the woods. Although the scene is heavily dramatised, the threat of a fatality is still a very real possibility for those out there that are severely allergic to even one bee sting.
The reality is that most people will be stung by a bee at some point in their life, especially children. Bees are attracted to bright colours and smells and are most active on bright sunny days. Generally, bees will just leave you alone as they go about their important bee business. However, they do not take kindly to being stepped on or swatted at and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.
Bee’s stingers are sharp barbs with attached venom sacks that continue to circulate venom in the body for several minutes after being stung. For this reason it’s very important to get rid of the stinger as soon as possible to minimise the venom absorption. Using a sideways scraping motion with a hard object (nail, credit card or butter knife) is the best way to remove the sting without harm.
For most people, they will simply need to wash the area and apply an icepack. They then get to look forward to several days of having a painful, itchy and swollen bump on their skin.
For others, their reactions can be more severe, ranging from swelling of the entire area to complete anaphylactic shock.
FIRST AID FOR ANAPHYLAXIS
The below symptoms are indicative of a severe allergic reaction:
- Severe or excessive swelling on any part of the body
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Hives or rash
The first step is to identify if the patient has an Epi-Pen on them. If so, lay the patient down, follow the instructions and inject as soon as possible. Call 000 for a paramedic and monitor the patient’s status for any positive or negative changes.
If the patient falls unconscious and is nonresponsive, commence CPR immediately.
Always make sure your at home first aid kit is fully stocked and ready to go for these little emergencies at home.
Awareness around your friends and family’s medical conditions is the biggest step to effectively treating a potential anaphylactic emergency. And as always, prevention is better than cure so be sure to keep an eye out and stay away from those busy little bees!