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Talk Before You Test: When Not To Get An Allergy Test For Insect Venom

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Allergies to stinging insects can be scary things because many times they are so severe as to be life-threatening. If you've never been stung by an insect like a wasp or bee, you might be thinking that it would be a great idea to get an allergy test to see whether you should carry a rescue kit like an epinephrine pen, right? Wrong.

You Get One Shot -- Literally

While it's possible that you may be that rare person who shows a true allergic reaction on the first shot, chances are you're not going to show any reaction at all, or just a mild reaction during the test. If you've never been stung before, you've never been exposed to the venom of the insects in question. Your body won't have antibodies formed yet. So, it's possible that the mild-to-none reaction you get is an indication that you're not allergic -- but it's also possible that that's the shot that sensitizes you and puts your immune system on guard.

When you get the allergy test and some venom is injected into your body, your immune system will basically evaluate the proteins and other constituents of the venom. It will decide after you get the test whether or not it likes what it sees and create antibodies if it doesn't like the venom. The next time you get stung, then, you could experience a massive reaction as those antibodies swarm the venom. It usually takes more than one sting for a serious allergy to develop. 

Test After a Sting

If you're lucky, you'll never be stung by an insect worse than a mosquito. But it's always possible that you could encounter a rogue bee that decides to teach you a lesson for coming too close to its hive. If you are stung, then you should go in for an allergy test. At that point, that first sting has exposed your immune system to the insect's venom, and a test will show what your immune system will do when it encounters the venom again.

If you are still very worried that you'll have a bad reaction to an initial sting, or if you're not sure you've ever been stung, talk to an allergist. An allergist can help you look back on skin reactions you've had to see if any match what might be a bee or wasp sting. the allergist can also prescribe rescue medication if there is truly a concern that you might have been stung already.

Allergists want you to be safe when it comes to stinging insects, and that can often mean not testing you. Work with the allergist to determine what you've been exposed to, and get advice from them on how to avoid stings in the first place. Doing so will keep you a lot happier and safer.

For more information, contact a professional like those at Oak Brook Allergists.