Health Watch -- Dangerous Stings
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Allergy shots could help prevent a deadly reaction to insect stings.
Children who have had a severe systemic reaction to an insect sting should receive allergy shots in order to prevent a potentially fatal reaction to any future stings, according to doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. A systemic reaction goes far beyond the pain and swelling or hives at the site of the sting that many of us have when we get stung by a bee or a wasp. In a systemic reaction, blood pressure may drop, the chest may become tight and the throat may swell, making it difficult to breathe.
In a way, this response is similar to food allergies. Most children with food allergies only get hives when they eat the food that gives them problems, but some children have a severe systemic reaction that can be deadly.
Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of UT Southwestern's allergy division, recommended in an editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine that the shots be given children who have had a severe reaction. She says a systemic reaction is not something that can be treated with medicine that targets seasonal allergies, even though the same antibody causes the response.
In the past, allergy shots for venom reactions haven't been used because doctors believed children outgrew these allergies, but recent studies have found this isn't true.
Children who react to insect stings with skin hives don't need allergy shots to protect them against stings.
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