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Could a Yellow Jacket Sting Be Lethal?

Could a Yellow Jacket Sting Be Lethal?

Q. I got stung by yellow jackets last week and reacted terribly. I swelled up and broke out in hives all over my body. It was so unbearable I had to go to the emergency room for treatment.

I never reacted this way to bees, wasps or yellow jackets before. Now that I know I am super allergic, is there any remedy I can use to counteract the stings?

A. Home remedies are inappropriate for serious allergic reactions. They require immediate emergency treatment instead.

Now that you know you are susceptible to such stings, ask your doctor whether you should keep an EpiPen on hand for such emergencies. This prescription auto-injector allows an allergic patient to self administer epinephrine (adrenaline). It can help reverse life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which is a risk for people like you.

An allergist may be able to provide desensitization shots so that you can avoid this severe allergic reaction in the future. Venom immunotherapy against stings can be quite effective (Current Opinions in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Aug., 2014).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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