What to Expect During Venom Desensitization

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Have you ever been stung by a bee or wasp and had an allergic reaction? For those with insect sting allergies, the fear of a life-threatening reaction can be overwhelming. But what if there was a way to lessen the severity of these reactions? That’s where venom desensitization comes in. 


In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how venom desensitization works, who it’s suitable for, and what the treatment process involves.


What is Venom Desensitization?

Venom desensitization is one of the most effective ways to treat allergic reactions from insect stings or bites. Also known as venom immunotherapy, this treatment involves gradually exposing the patient to small amounts of insect venom over time, with the goal of reducing or eliminating their allergic reaction to stings. Studies say that it is efficient in 77-84% of patients. The best part, wasp venom immunotherapy has a 91-96% success rate.  


Insect allergy desensitization involves the injection of venom into patients in small increments to boost their resilience naturally. Allergy shots provide long-term protection against allergic reactions due to insect venom. The expected result of venom desensitization is an increased tolerance against insect venom during accidental stings or exposure.


What Happens During the Procedure?

Typically, your allergist injects modest amounts of reaction-causing allergen into your body to increase your tolerance gradually. The initial dosing usually takes place every week. In each session, the dosing increases so your body can tolerate stronger doses during the 12-16 weeks. Finally, you will reach the maintenance phase, getting top-up injections for up to three to five years. 

Benefits of Insect Venom Immunization

Insect venom immunization is beneficial to your overall health. We’ve compiled the benefits that you can gain from the treatment.


Reduced fear of the risks

Living with the fear of being stung can limit your ability to have fun. Moreover, it may trigger anxiety and paranoia. But with insect venom immunotherapy, you can enjoy the outdoors with fewer worries.


Long-term effects

Insect venom desensitization aims to provide lasting effects and protection against insect stings and bites. Once you have completed the entire treatment, you don’t have to worry about additional shots or medications. 


You can save time, money, and effort

Continuous buying of allergy medications can cost you a small fortune. Moreover, imagine how much time you’ll spend going to the doctor to treat your allergies. One example is the conventional treatment for wasp stings. But with a stronger immune system, you don’t have to pay additional money to buy anti-allergy meds.   


Venom Immunotherapy Side Effects

Due to the nature of venom immunotherapy (exposure to a reaction-causing allergen), you should expect mild and tolerable side effects. Most allergic reactions like itching and skin redness disappear without medical intervention. In addition, over-the-counter medications can provide immediate relief. 


Insect Venom Allergy Symptoms

Most reactions to insect stings are mild and annoying. These symptoms typically appear within minutes of the stinging and disappear gradually. However, some people may experience severe reactions. Below are the following examples.


  1. Rapid heartbeat
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Dizziness or fainting
  4. Nausea
  5. Constriction of the throat
  6. Abnormal swelling in the face or tongue
  7. Cramping
  8. Hives
  9. Anaphylaxis


Studies say that stinging insects are the primary culprits of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. If left untreated, it could lead to emergency situations, even death. 


Below are the symptoms of anaphylaxis


  1. Clammy skin
  2. Collapsing or losing consciousness
  3. Breathing difficulties 
  4. Wheezing
  5. A fast heartbeat or palpitations
  6. Feeling lightheaded or faint
  7. Confusion and anxiety
  8. A sudden drop in the blood pressure


Call 911 immediately when you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylaxis. Time is crucial. It would be best if you acted fast.


Treatment for Insect Stings and Bites

Now that you know how venom desensitization works, let’s discuss the typical treatment for insect bites and stings. Regular treatment follows if the sting or bite is not an emergency. Please refer to the list below.


  1. Taking oral antihistamines to reduce itching.
  2. Removing the stinger or mandibles (if there is one).
  3. Applying an ice pack to the affected body part to reduce inflammation.
  4. Cleaning the area with soap and water.
  5. Using a topical cream to lessen itching, pain, and swelling.
  6. Elevating the affected body parts (arms or legs).
  7. Avoid scratching the affected area to prevent blistering and agitation.
  8. Keeping your hands clean while tending the affected area.


The steps above are typical bee sting allergy treatments. But venom immunotherapy makes the procedure simpler. Consult your allergist if the symptoms do not improve and if you feel they worsen. 


Is Venom Desensitization Worth It?

Studies say that venom desensitization proves to be highly effective. The treatment showed the potential to reduce the symptoms of insect sting allergic reactions, improving one’s quality of life. Moreover, the treatment carries minimal risks of systemic adverse reactions. 


How to Diagnose Insect Allergy?

The safety and efficiency of venom allergy shots depend on the accuracy of the testing. In some cases, Hymenoptera allergenic extract is the best option. Hymenoptera allergenic extract refers to the accurate diagnosis of insect sting allergies. This method is an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to venom from the insect order Hymenoptera


Some of the insects under the Hymenoptera order include:


  1. Bees
  2. Wasps
  3. Sawflies
  4. Ants

Get Maximum Protection from Insect Venom with Allergy Shots

We understand the challenges of living with insect allergies. Allow us to help you achieve a stronger immune system with our venom desensitization treatment option.


Things To Expect After the Treatment

Expect mild itching and swelling in the affected area for 2-3 days after the treatment. Don’t worry. Antihistamines or an ice pack can reduce the symptoms. You may also feel mildly fatigued following the injection for 3 months. All these symptoms are normal and nothing to be afraid of. 


Our board-certified allergist and immunologist, Dr. Paul Jantzi, offers allergy treatment and management in Texas with two locations in Bastrop, Brenham, College Station, Columbus, Giddings, and La Grange

You can reach him at any of the Brazos Valley Allergy & Asthma Clinics for professional allergy, asthma, and immunology services. We are happy to help you prevent life-threatening reactions and reduce your concerns associated with insect stings.

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