Tag Archives: histamines

Bee sting

Bee Sting
Bee Sting

Here we go again!  My 9-year-old got stung by a bee again while on a field trip to a park.  This will be sting #3.  This time though the reaction was a little more pronounced than before.  Her hand started swelling.  I was so glad a parent chaperon had pulled out the stinger on time so the venom didn’t spread too much.  We still ended up going to the doctor’s office just to make sure it was nothing more serious.  When I told her she needs to bulk up a little so she can play softball better, this was not the bulking up I had in mind.

This is the reason my daughter freaks out when she is in the outfield. Anyway, I spent so much time in the last couple of days studying about bee stings and going on bee forums that I learnt that certain people do get stung or are prone to getting stung more than others because of the adrenalin smells, smells of perfume or shampoo.

I also was surprised to learn about the anatomy of a bee stinger.  It is more like a barbed fish-hook.  Have you ever had a fish-hook stuck in you?  I have…that took me to the ER, the ER doctor’s asked if they can keep the hook for show and tell.  A different story for a different time!  Anyway sticking to the bees for now, I also found that the barbed stinger is only present in the female worker bees, so the male bees and the drone bees are pretty harmless.  So don’t mess with the ladies 🙂

When the honey bee stings, the barbs of the bee stinger gets stuck in the victim and the bee can’t get it out.  Also the bee’s abdomen is hooked to the bee stinger, so when bee tries to fly away after stinging someone, or something, the abdomen and intestines of the bees gets separated from the bee’s body and the bee dies immediately.  Here is an excellent photo of this. This is however not true for the Queen bees ( Of-course that is why they are the queen) which has smooth barb, so watch out, they can repeatedly sting you without dying.

When the bee stings you, they release pheromones (basically a chemical alarm substance) that tells other bees that they have a threat and need to defend themselves, so when someone gets stung, they have more chances of getting stung again and again if they are particularly close to a bee hive.

The first thing to do when stung by a bee is to remove the stinger which has the venom sack attached to it.  It doesn’t matter how but it needs to be removed as soon as possible so the venom is not continuing to be pumped into the victim.  So what happens after a sting?  The enzymes in the venom attacks the fatty cells near the sting site and also destroy the immune system.  When this happens, histamines gets released.  What are histamines?  They are compounds that gets released when our immune system is attacked and they rush to the wound site.  When this happens the blood vessels and capillaries get dilated.

This is where it gets really tricky!! If someone is allergic to the bee venom, then the dilation of the blood vessels and capillaries is excessive and the blood pressure drops, when blood pressure drops there is not enough oxygen and pretty soon they go into  anaphylactic shock.  This is very serious and the victim needs to be given medical attention immediately.  I also found out that a person can’t tell if they are allergic to bee stings the first time they get stung, sometimes it takes a few stings till the body figures out that they have severe allergies.  This is similar to people who have other food allergies.

Okay, what do you do when you or someone you know gets stung? First thing and the most important thing to do is to remove the stinger which has the venom sack attached.  This should be done within a few seconds.

* Remove the stinger

* Wash area with soap and water.

* Apply ice pack to reduce swelling.

*Take an anti-histamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec (Our pediatrician said that Zyrtec that dissolves in the tongue works best without making kids drowsy).

Note that anti-histamine blocks the severe reaction of the body to the histamine being released.  Anti-histamines cause the sting site to itch which should not be confused with symptoms of the bee sting.

Typically if a parent is allergic to bee stings then there is a good chance the kids will inherit this.  If your child is allergic please have them wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that tells others to act quickly.  Also talk to your doctor to have a Epinephrene  shot available to give as soon as they get stung.

Please read more about this at KidsMD site to get more educated on bee stings.  We were told that it will take about 2 to 3 days before my daughter’s swollen hand goes back to normal size.  The 2nd day was even worse than the picture shown in the beginning.  Today is day 3 and the swelling is just starting to go down.

Good luck to all the kids that are active and playing and sharing the space with the honey bees.  Hope they don’t get stung.  I still have no idea how to make my daughter not freak out at the site of bees in the outfield.  I may have to bribe her with something she likes in order to not pay attention to the bees.  Bribe worked great for my 11-year-old when she was young and when she was afraid to slide.  I will let you know when I figure out.