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Spring is a wonderful time of year, but with the warming weather comes the reemergence of bees — and that can spell trouble for those who have bee sting allergies. This type of reaction can turn what is a painful annoyance for most people into a potentially deadly condition for some.

Bee sting reactions can range from the mild to the severe and even life-threatening. But knowing your risk and being ready before you head outdoors can help ease your mind and let you focus on all the good things spring has to offer.

Almost everyone will react to a bee sting, but most people are not allergic. For those without allergies, a bee sting may cause pain, swelling and redness near the sting site — you may even experience extended swelling that goes well beyond the site (swelling of the entire arm, for example, when you’re stung on the hand or wrist). Generally this is nothing to worry about, but do contact your doctor if you have concerns. Try to remove the stinger right away, wash the area with soap and water and use an ice pack to reduce swelling.

The time to worry — and seek immediate care — is when you experience a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This results in symptoms like difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, or dizziness and even loss of consciousness. You may also have skin reactions that include hives and itching and flushed or pale skin.

If you or a loved one experiences this type of reaction, call 9-1-1. Don’t wait to see if things improve — you need to get medical care as soon as you can. It’s not an exaggeration to say that waiting could kill you.

A bee sting can be serious and scary — but you can take steps to protect yourself. To start with, if you’ve ever had a bee sting reaction, you should carry epinephrine (commonly known by the EpiPen® brand name) with you at all times during the spring, summer and fall months. It’s also a good idea to wear a Medic Alert necklace or bracelet with information about your allergy.

Statistics show that people who have a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have up to a 60 percent chance of experiencing anaphylaxis the next time they’re stung. If you fall into this category, talk to your primary care provider or an allergy specialist about options for testing and possible immunotherapy treatments. If allergic, this type of treatment can reduce your chances of having a future anaphylactic reaction.

No matter who you are, you can also take commonsense steps to try to avoid bee stings in the first place. Avoid wearing perfume/colognes and brightly colored clothing, and pay attention when consuming sugary foods or beverages outdoors (or avoid doing so). If bees do come near, stay calm and still — swinging your arms or swatting at the insects can increase your chances of being stung.

The warmer months will pass all too quickly. Knowing your allergy risk and taking a few simple steps can help you enjoy them with less worry.

Alan James has an office at Bellin Health, Marinette.