How Does a Wasp Sting Affect the Body?

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Defined

  • Bees, wasps and ants are the insects that cause the most medical problems when they sting. A wasp, like bees and ants, are in the hymenoptera order and a sting from it is often referred to as a Hymenoptera sting.

    Wasps sting when they are trying to defend their territory and when nests are disturbed. The most common types of wasps are the yellow jacket, paper wasp and bald-faced hornet. A sting from a wasp is poisonous because of the venom injected, and as a result, it can cause severe allergic reactions.

    When a wasp stings a person, the muscles that surround the wasp's venom sac inject venom into the body. Once the venom is injected, the person will experience a severe stinging feeling, followed by swelling, redness and itching.

    After that, the person may notice a large red area on the skin where he or she was stung. In rare cases, a bacterial skin infection can also occur. In some cases, people who are allergic to the stings can suffer severe medical problems and death.

Allergic Reactions

  • Serious medical issues and deaths from wasp stings result from an allergic reaction. If someone's immune system is extremely sensitive or allergic to the venom, the body will overreact and cause an allergic reaction.

    Within an hour of the time that a wasp stings someone, the allergic reaction will occur. It is in this time as well, that most deaths from wasp stings have been known to occur. Multiple stings increase the danger of allergic reactions to wasp stings, but deaths and severe allergic reactions have resulted from the sting of one wasp.

    Some symptoms of an allergic reaction include, hives, swelling of the throat, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, a rash all over the body and faintness. If any of these symptoms occur, the person should receive immediate medical attention.

Non-Allergic Reactions

  • When a wasp stings someone who isn't allergic to its venom, the effect of the sting is usually minor. However, when multiple wasps sting a person, kidney failure, muscle breakdown and other problems can occur. Major problems can also occur in people who are not allergic to wasp stings, depending on where they are stung. If someone is stung by a wasp in the mouth or throat, swelling can occur that can obstruct the airway and make it difficult to breathe.

    In addition to where a person is stung, several other factors determine how severely the sting will affect the person, such as how many times the person is stung and if the person is allergic to a wasp sting.

Treatment

  • After a person is stung, the stinger should be removed from the sting site. Then the area should be washed with soap and water. Put an antibiotic ointment or cream on the sting site to prevent further infection. If the person is not having symptoms of an allergic reaction, the individual should take an antihistamine to soothe the itching of the sting, as well as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief. Ice can also be rubbed over the stung area to reduce swelling.

  • Photo Credit Micropolitan.org
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