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Emergency treatment of allergic reactions to Hymenoptera stings


Dr U. Müller, Chefarzt, Medizinische Klinik, Zieglerspital, Postfach 8965, CH 3007 Bern, Switzerland.


Allergic reactions to Hymenoptera stings are frequently observed all over Europe. Rarely they may induce long-standing morbidity or even be fatal. Several investigations have shown that the emergency treatment given to these patients is often inadequate. Cutaneous symptoms respond well to antihistamines and also to adrenaline. Adrenaline is the mainstay for outside hospital treatment of more severe reactions involving the respiratory tract (bronchial asthma, laryngeal oedema) and the cardiovascular system (anaphylactic shock). Inhaled adrenaline is especially useful in respiratory symptoms, while parenteral application of adrenaline is prefered for shock treatment. All patients with severe respiratory or cardiovascular reactions must be hospitalized, treated under intensive care conditions and observed for at least 24 hr. Emergency medications including adrenaline for inhalation or for self-injection must be given to all patients with a history of systemic allergic reactions to hymenoptera stings. These patients must also get instructions for safety measures to avoid further stings. They should be referred to an allergist in order to evaluate the indication for venom immunotherapy.

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