Allergy Shots Effective for Insect Allergy

There are many different types of stinging insects, including bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. Most people, when stung by an insect, suffer pain, redness, itching and perhaps minor swelling around the area of the sting.(1) In contrast, an allergic reaction, which requires immediate medical attention, includes symptoms such as: hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site, tightness in chest, hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue or throat.(2)

The life-threatening allergic reaction of anaphylaxis involves more that one organ system. Symptoms can include trouble breathing, stomach pain, vomiting, and fainting.(1)

Reactions to stinging insects are unpredictable in terms of severity, states the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Following one sting reaction, the next sting by the same type of insect is up to 70% more likely to cause another systemic reaction.”(3)

Venom immunotherapy helps prevent life-threatening reactions. For those who are allergic, the immunotherapy can reduce anxiety related to insect stings. For this treatment, a small amount of insect venom is mixed with dilute saline and injected under the skin. Generally, there are weekly shots for four to six months, gradually increasing the amount of venom. At a maintenance level, the same dose is given for an additional four to six months. After the first year, maintenance shots are given every six to eight weeks for the next three to five years. A treatment called “rush immunotherapy” is sometimes employed to increase tolerance in a shorter period of time.(4)

Venom immunotherapy has a 90% effectiveness rate in eliminating systemic reactions. People who have had venom immunotherapy are still advised to carry an epinephrine autoinjector.(3)

Edge Pharmaceuticals offers supplies and highest-quality extracts for allergy immunotherapy. Visit our Allergenic Extracts catalog and easily set up an account to order.

(1) Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Insect Allergies,

(2) American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Insect Sting Allergy,

(3) American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Why Do I Need Both Epinephrine and Allergy Shots,

(4) University of Michigan, Immunotherapy for Allergies to Insect Stings,