Are You Really Allergic to Bee Stings?
I was told this story by a beekeeper friend of mine. I think it's well worth passing along.
Many people claim to be allergic to bee stings. Obviously some of them are, but most are not. A painful and itchy swelling around the area of a bee sting is not an allergic reaction. Bee stings do hurt, they're supposed to. But they're unlikely to be a lasting problem.
If you have a real allergy I understand you will develop a rash on parts of your body away from the actual sting site. You might have trouble breathing. In this type of situation you must not hesitate, seek urgent medical attention. If you've had a bad reaction to a sting the chances are high that further stings will be progressively worse.
This friend was with a group of other beekeepers. Several new beekeepers were being given a demonstration and tuition.
One lady, new to beekeeping, was stung. She had ever been stung before and was not aware that she was allergic to bee sting venom.
Very soon she felt very ill and was having trouble breathing. It seems her air-ways were starting to swell and severely restrict her breathing. The other members of the group quickly saw it was necessary to take her to the emergency room without delay.
One of the group had an EpiPen®, the treatment for just such severe reactions. He quickly produced it from his bee equipment box, only to find it was TWO YEARS out of date.
With no real alternative the lady was given a shot from the EpiPen® as they bundled her into the car. On the journey it was clear that things were rapidly deteriorating, her breathing was getting much more difficult. It was decided, with some reluctance, to give her another shot. No one knew whether one can overdose on this stuff.
Within a very short time they arrive at the ER and she was rushed away to be treated. The assembled beekeeper waited to hear how she was. The mood was very somber, they had heard stories of people 'not making it'.
After what seemed like an age, a doctor appeared and asked which of them had administered they doses from the Epipen®? The offender sheepishly raised his hand, had he killed her? Imagining the wrongful death suit he was facing. The doctor said, "You saved her life! Without those shots, she almost certainly she wouldn't have made it to the hospital.
She made a full recovery. It seems that the epinephrine which is administered with the EpiPen® becomes less effective with age, but is not in any way harmful.
Apparently you can become allergic to almost anything at any time. I think an EpiPen® should be part of every beekeeper's equipment. You never know when someone is going to react badly to a bee sting.
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