For millions of Americans, summer brings the threat of insect stings and, for some, the danger of severe and sometimes life-threatening reactions. As part of a nationwide public education program, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology offers these tips:

• If you are stung and experience symptoms such as trouble breathing, hives, fainting or any symptoms other than pain, itching, redness and swelling at the sting site, you may be having a severe reaction and should seek medical attention immediately.

• If you have experienced a severe reaction, you may have insect sting allergy; a condition which puts you at a high risk of having a similar or worse reaction the next time you are stung.

• Insect sting allergy can be treated. Ask your doctor to refer you to an allergist who can evaluate you for a vaccination program that immunizes against future allergic reactions.

• A sting kit containing injectable epinephrine is emergency rescue medication only. It can stop an allergic reaction in progress, but cannot treat the underlying allergy, and therefore will not protect against future reactions.

Allergic reactions to insect stings can be dangerous and sometimes fatal. Insect allergic individuals often change their lifestyles out of fear of stinging insects, sometimes avoiding outdoor activities altogether. Proper evaluation and treatment by an allergy specialist can eliminate much of the fear and misunderstanding associated with insect sting allergy. For a free informational booklet, call 1-800-23 STING.

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