10 July 2009

Frightening experience after a wasp sting - Anaphylactic reaction

This was one of the most frightening experiences I've ever had so I thought I'd tell you about it in my blog to spread the message about this potentially dangerous allergic reaction.

Asian Hornet nestOn Wednesday afternoon I was stung by a wasp. I didn't see the wasp itself but I think it was an Asian Hornet because I noticed that they had started building a nest just near our back door. I spend a lot of time outdoors and I've been stung a few times by wasps and bees and although it's a nuisance it's not normally something I'd worry too much about.

I immediately applied wasp-eze to help reduce the inevitable swelling in my arm then went back outside to carry on with what I was doing. A few minutes later, I suddenly felt very strange with crackling stars blinding my vision and a powerful feeling of my brain being "squashed" and I felt faint and very ill.

I sat in the kitchen with Fabrice thinking it was just shock and would pass. I got up with an urge to go to the toilet and my legs buckled under me, so Fabrice helped me to the loo and I sat for a few minutes waiting to "go" and vomit - to no avail.

My throat and tongue became swollen I couldn't breathe or move and slipped to the floor. My vision was poor, my heart was pumping very fast and my arms and legs felt very heavy and swelled dramatically. I had painful cramps like labour pains and my tongue, mouth and eyes became puffy and red.

Fabrice 'phoned the Pompiers and they came within minutes, made me comfortable and immediately gave me oxygen to help me breathe. The doctor came a few minutes later and gave me a intramuscular shot of adrenaline and antihistamines.

After half an hour my whole body became swollen and bright red and covered with itchy spots.

The doctor stayed for about an hour until my blood pressure was almost normal, the danger had passed and I could walk upstairs to bed.

Yesterday, I felt sore all over and today I'm still a bit swollen and shocked but I feel much better and I've been spending a while on the 'net finding out more about what happened.

Apparently, according to The Allergy Site I experienced a classic anaphylactoid reaction.

This is an extract taken from the Allergy Site.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction - the extreme end of the allergic spectrum. The whole body is affected, often within minutes of exposure to the allergen but sometimes after hours. Peanut allergy and nut allergy are frequently severe and for that reason have received widespread publicity. Causes of anaphylaxis also include other foods, insect stings, latex and drugs, but on rare occasions there may be no obvious trigger.

An anaphylactic reaction is caused by the sudden release of chemical substances, including histamine, from cells in the blood and tissues where they are stored. The release is triggered by the reaction between the allergic antibody (IgE) with the substance (allergen) causing the anaphylactic reaction. This mechanism is so sensitive that minute quantities of the allergen can cause a reaction. The released chemicals act on blood vessels to cause the swelling in the mouth and anywhere on the skin. There is a fall in blood pressure and, in asthmatics, the effect is mainly on the lungs.

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

* generalised flushing of the skin
* nettle rash (hives) anywhere on the body
* sense of impending doom
* swelling of throat and mouth
* difficulty in swallowing or speaking
* alterations in heart rate
* severe asthma
* abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
* sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
* collapse and unconsciousness

I found a useful pdf from the Resuscitation Council (UK) which gives advice on what to do in the case of Anaphylaxis.

Now, of course, I have to be more careful when I'm out in the garden ! Some of the things I looking at are wearing less colourful clothes, no perfume (not that I do!) and I have to go to the doctors this afternoon to get a prescription for an Epi-pen or Ana-Pen (A self-administered adrenaline shot) and some anti-histamines.

I've also read that it's possible to follow a course of desensitisation. I'll look into that more and add more to this blog after I've seen the doctor.


I've now got an Epi-pen or as it's called here : ANAHELP trousse d'urgence pour choc anaphylactique. My doctor also gave me some steroids - antihistamines - to take in the event of another sting.

I still feel slightly itchy and "floaty" so I'm not quite normal yet but I feel a lot more confident about working outside. I've told friends and neighbours that I'm allergic so that they'll know what to do in the event that I need their help and I'm trying to find out as much as I can about natural ways of dealing with Anaphylaxis.


detroit dog said...

Irene, I'm so glad you are now o.k. What a terrible and scary thing. So glad Fabrice was there for you. Thank you for the information, and the links.

Best wishes for feeling better.

jaz said...

hi.....lucky you that you got help. this is no joking matter. what everyone needs to understand is that this builds up over time. from now on, you will have worse reactions each time. unless you get allergy shots this will continue to worsen. each time you were stung over the years it was making you more sensitive until you got to where you are now. you MUST have that epi pen with you at all times. anaphylaxis can kill you in 20 seconds. i am severely alergic so i know all about this. on a lighter note i will tell you a short story. i once lived in a house with a major wasp problem. i called a bee control company for an estimate for getting rid of them. this was 25 years ago and they wanted a couple thousand dollars. i told them i would think about it and get back to them. after they left my husband and i discussed it and decided it was too expensive and we would pass on it. as soon as we made the decision i went into the powder room to pee. i sat down on the loo and sat on a wasp which stung me on the butt. i called the bee control guy the next morning and paid the money!!!

granny said...

My son had a terrible attack last year.We still dont know what cause it.His wife was at work and so he rang me,he couldnt breath,vomitting no vision...complete panic.i told him to hang up(the hardest thing Ive ever had to do) and I rang an ambulance.He spent the night in ICU and was sent home with an epi pen.Scary,scary stuff.Im glad all is well with you now.Take care :0)

Cheryl said...

What a scary thing to have happen, I'm so glad to hear that you're feeling better.

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and kind thoughts. I still feel a bit tired and my stomach muscles are tender but apart from that I feel fine - except I'm scared to go out !

I've been reading and talking to people all over the world today about this and it's much more common than I ever imagined.

I just don't understand how I missed learning about this as it's something that people who spend a lot of time outdoors should know about.

suej said...

Irene, how frightening! Hope you are soon fully recovered. Thank you for writing about this in detail. Yes you must always have the epi-pen with you and it may be worth getting a bracelet with details of your allergy carved on it that you wear all the time. My friend's daughter has had peanut allergy for years. Another friend kept bees until his allergic reactions to the stings got too severe. Just to reassure you that although it may not feel like it at the moment your life will return to normal. May be worth exploring homeopathy as part of a desensitisation route. Best wishes Sue

Annie said...

Oh my goodness! How scary. I'm going to bookmark the sites! I'm so glad you're all right.

dND said...

I'm so glad you're OK HWH, that sounds really frightening. I'm going to make doubly sure I have my mobile with me as I work alone.

Did you spot this
on the TF forum? It has plans for a selective trap against the Asian hornet.

Do you know if you can buy an Epi-pen over the counter or do you have to have a prescription for it?


Ian and Luis said...

Thanks for your kind words about Tales from Toriello. Sorry to hear of your recent experience - As an ex-nurse I have seen this many times and it is a really frightening experience. It seems as though you have things in hand and finding out ways to help alleviate problems in the future - your blog continues to inspire me.

Val Grainger said...

Thanks so much for sharing that....its very useful to know what it feels like so you can act if it happens to you. Thank goodness Fabrice was there or it may have been difficult on your own....xx

Kathie said...

Oh my goodness, so glad to know that you are doing better now. I'll send more healing energy your way.

Julie said...

Goodness! So glad to hear that you were ultimately OK, but what a horrible scare. Thanks for sharing, I'll certainly be more wary for myself and my three girls in future.

lyrebird said...

thanks for sharing. it is valuable to have heard someone's first hand experience and to be able to recognise the symptoms and know that fast action is imperative. i know of several people in australia who have survived the potentially deadly funnel-web bite despite being unable to get medical help by going into an almost 'meditative' state of deep relaxation and thus slowing the action of the poison, but with anaphalaxis it is a different situation. no time for delays. so glad you are feeling better. you'll feel safe with an epi-pen in your pocket.

Angie Moore said...

Hope you are fully recovered, what a scary event. Might it happen again or will you develop some immunity to this sting?

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Deborah, as far as I know you have to have a prescription for an Epi-pen.

Lyrebird, I'm looking into ways that I can manage anaphalaxis naturally. If you or anyone else has information please share it with me.

Angie, I'm still a bit itchy and most of all scared.

Regards immunity, all I've read so far leads me to believe that the reaction will happen every time. I've spoken to a few people who have been stung several times and they confirm this.

Anonymous said...

Hi HWH, Just got to a computer and was shocked to read about your close call. Thank heavens for Fabrice. I've heard about these allergic reactions when I was doing first aid courses, but didn't realize how quickly they could happen.
Hope your feeling back to normal soon and able to go confidently into the garden.
Nic R.

Michelle said...

HWH - I'm sitting here waiting for the Tyenol to kick in because of a wasp sting I received yesterday. My arm is swollen and hot pink from the wrist to the elbow. I'm really happy that you are getting better after your horrible experience. From now on, I'm carrying a couple of Benadryl in my pocket as I work outside. I hope that this never happens to you again. Don't let this stop you from enjoying the outside.

Janet said...

If you know how to crochet, you can make a "decoy" wasp's nest. Hanging it up apparently deters real wasps from making nests nearby, as the territory looks taken. Here's the link to buy the pattern: http://www.crone-findlay.com/Crone-FindlayCreationsCrochet.html

I haven't tried it, but it might be worth a shot. Good luck, and be careful!

Maggie said...

Just found your blog whilst googling wasp sting allergic reactions.
I was stung on Monday and my arm is still very swollen and sore.
But nothing like the terrible experience that you had, thank goodness.
Hope you are fully recovered now.

Healthcorp said...

Make sure your ready for any Anaphylaxis emergency! 
Healthcorp Australia have an Anaphylaxis Epipen training course available
 Australia wide. Check out the details at http://www.healthcorp.com.au/epi-pen-anaphylaxis-training.html

maggie.danhakl@healthline.com said...


I hope all is well with you. Healthline just published an infographic detailing the effects of anaphylaxis on the body. This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

You can see the overview of the report here: http://www.healthline.com/health/anaphylaxis/effects-on-body

Our users have found our guide very useful and I thought it would be a great resource for your page: http://lafermedesourrou.blogspot.com/2009/07/frightening-experience-after-wasp-sting.html

I would appreciate it if you could review our request and consider adding this visual representation of the effects of anaphylaxis to your site or sharing it on your social media feeds.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

All the best,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager

Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
www.healthline.com | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

About Us: corp.healthline.com

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