Helpful Tips from the Allergy Partners Team
If you're an Allergy Partners patient and find yourself dealing with fire ant allergies, you’re not alone. Although they may seem small and innocuous, these little critters can cause big problems when it comes to your health. To help you manage the uncomfortable symptoms that come along with this type of allergy, the Allergy Partners team has put together some key tips and strategies. Here's what to know about fire ant allergies so that you can take control and stay healthy this season.
A Little Background on Fire Ants
Every year, over half a million people experience severe reactions to insect stings and bites – with 0.5% of cases resulting in fatalities nationwide. Particularly concerning is the presence of fire ants across 14 states from California to Florida – an unwelcome immigrant that arrived on produce shipped through Mobile, AL. Approximately 40 deaths are attributed annually as a result of these contaminants in our environment, showing us how essential it is we remain vigilant against potential health risks!
The US is home to two species of the fire ant: the red and black varieties. However, it's the aggressive red imported fire ant that reigns supreme; its stinging bite can even trigger severe allergic reactions! Thankfully, more benign ants like carpenter or sugar ants don't cause such a stir — they simply go about their business with no sting attached.
What Are the Chances of Getting Bit by a Fire Ant?
In areas where fire ant stings are frequent, the risk of being bitten each year is alarmingly high – up to 60%. Normally a small and itchy lump forms within 8-24 hours after the sting. To prevent infection, refrain from breaking or popping any pustules that form. Cleanliness helps alleviate discomfort along with an oral antihistamine for itching/swelling relief; in some cases, redness may persist, requiring either topical steroids or a short-term course of oral steroid therapy.
For some, the sting of a fire ant can lead to unfortunate and severe systemic allergic reactions. Symptoms range from welts over the body and swelling in various areas to abdominal pain, chest tightness or difficulty breathing, hoarseness, faintness – even “blacking out”! Immediate medical attention is crucial for these symptoms, followed by an Allergist's evaluation due to there being a 60% likelihood of similar reactions occurring again with reoccurring stings. It is not something you want to be associated with your outdoor adventures!
How to Minimize Fire Ant Bites
Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are the best way to ensure long-term protection against severe reactions to insect stings. With immunotherapy, your risk of getting a serious reaction is less than 5%. In addition to 'allergy shots', injectable epinephrine can be lifesaving and should always be on hand for emergencies! Other helpful measures include:
- Avoid walking barefoot or wearing open-faced sandals
- Treat your lawn to decrease ant mounds
- Wear gloves and protective clothing when gardening
- Keep an antihistamine or injectable epinephrine with you at all times
- See an allergist if you are prone to severe allergic reactions to fire ants
Contact Your Local Allergy Partners Team
Living with a stinging insect allergy can be difficult, which is why it's so important to consult a medical professional who can properly diagnose and treat your specific allergy. Allergy Partners can provide you with extensive testing for a wide range of allergies, coupled with an individualized treatment plan designed to reduce the severity and impact of symptoms. With our expertise and guidance, soon you will be breathing easier and playing in the garden without fear again!
Contact Allergy Partners today to learn more about our allergy testing services or for any other questions or concerns you may have.