SUNDAY, Aug. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Now's the time to take steps to make sure that stinging insects don't ruin your next picnic or pool party, an expert suggests.
"The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that stings from insects send more than half a million people to hospitals and cause at least 50 deaths each year," Dr. Bill Dolen, an allergist and immunologist at Children's Hospital of Georgia, noted in a hospital news release.
"Common stingers include honey bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants," he said.
But, Dolen advised, there are eight things people can do to avoid insect stings and protect their health, including:
- Be mindful when eating outdoors and consider covering food to keep insects away.
- Try not to drink outside. Glasses, cans and other beverage containers attract stinging insects that may crawl inside.
- Make sure garbage cans are sealed tightly.
- Don't wear sweet-smelling deodorant or perfumes or other scented products, such as hair spray and cologne.
- Avoid walking barefoot in the grass.
- Try not to wear brightly colored clothing outside, particularly floral patterns.
- Look for signs of insects when working outside, gardening or mowing. For example, shrubs may conceal hornets' nests.
- Do not disturb fire ant mounds.
Despite taking precautions to avoid insects, stings can still occur, Dolen noted in the news release.
Learn the signs of an allergic reaction, so you can get help quickly when it's needed, he suggested. "A normal reaction to an insect sting will include pain, swelling and redness at the sting site, but an allergic reaction requires immediate medical attention," Dolen said.
Warning signs of a potentially serious reaction to an insect sting include:
- Hives, itching and swelling that spreads to areas other than the sting site
- Tightness in the che
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