Taking The Sting Out Of Food And Insect Allergies

There may be good news for those who have extreme allergic reactions to certain foods or insect bites. Experts say that a few products may offer hope.

Research shows that the six foods which cause most allergic reactions are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy and tree nuts, such as walnuts and pecans, while the five types of insects that cause the majority of allergic reactions are yellow jackets, honeybees, paper wasps, hornets and fire ants.

Avoidance, say experts, is the easiest combat. “Food allergies have no cure. The only effective treatment to counter anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction that can strike multiple systems of the body within minutes) is an epinephrine injection. I caution those allergic to carry an EpiPen or an Ana-Kit,” says Dr. Steven Lamm, an internist who often offers health advice on ABC’s “The View.”

These emergency devices, containing the drug epinephrine in a readily injectable form, help to open airways and improve blood pressure, but they must be used immediately.

When it comes to insects, fire ants sting more than 20 million people each year and more children are stung each year by fire ants than by all other insects combined. Their stings cause itching, burning and pain.

“When disturbed, hundreds, sometimes thousands of ants will attack an intruder, inflicting painful stings that, in the most severe cases, can be life threatening,” says Nate Royalty, Ph.D., entomologist with Bayer Environmental Science.

While most stings are treatable, 10-15 percent of all people can have severe, localized allergic reactions to fire ants’ stings and 1-2 percent can have systemic allergic reactions, which, in rare cases, result in death. Fire ants currently infest 325 million acres in the U.S., an area larger than the size of Spain and France combined.

“We encourage homeowners to talk with professional lawn care and pest control companies to determine if they have a fire ant problem, and investigate control methods. Preventative control methods like TopChoice, a low-dose, granular insecticide that is spread over lawns and landscape beds like fertilizer, both controls existing mounds and helps control the formation of new mounds for up to one year,” affirms Royalty.

Leave a Comment