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Is everyone allergic to bee stings?

Is everyone allergic to bee stings?

English Transcript

Allergist Janna Tuck, MD: Everyone thinks they’re allergic to bee stings because it hurts and a bee sting swells up. That’s because bees sting things to eat them and kill them, that’s venom. Venom causes those symptoms, so we all say we’re allergic to bees but that’s not necessarily true.

Actually, only a very small small percentage of humans are allergic. Now when we say allergic as allergists, we mean somebody who’s having a serious reaction to a sting that can be life-threatening. No one wants that, so we all become very concerned when someone says they’re allergic to bee stings. That means something very different to an allergist.

So people carry around things like epi pens and medications when they don’t necessarily need to. So if you are truly allergic to a bee sting, you need to talk to your doctor. You might need to be referred to an allergist to parse that out.

But when we say you’re allergic to a bee sting, that usually means you have something other than just swelling. So you just have swelling, you get stung on your hand and it swells up and you don’t have problems breathing, you don’t have hives all over your entire body. You don’t have nausea or vomiting – then you probably aren’t actually allergic to a bee.

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