For most people, bee stings are an occasional nuisance generally alleviated with only mild discomfort. However, for some, a bee sting is a guaranteed trip to the hospital -- around three percent of adults experience serious allergic reactions after being stung by an insect. In the United States, between 40 and 100 people die from insect stings every year. It can be difficult to predict what type of reaction one will have to a sting, and the severity of a reaction can change as a person ages.
Most people experience only mild discomfort when stung by a bee. Minor symptoms usually include some pain or itching, redness, and swelling at the site of the sting. If the body has a sensitivity to bee venom, however, redness and swelling may increase in severity. These large local reactions usually take more than a week to heal fully. A person who experiences a moderate reaction has a five to ten percent chance of developing increased reactions to future stings. People who have severe bee sting reactions generally experience anaphylaxis.
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