Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Anyone here hyper-allergic to bug bites? Any treatment issues?
Old 06-22-2008, 04:18 AM   #1
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Anyone here hyper-allergic to bug bites? Any treatment issues?

Spouse (46 years old and not happy with the aging process) had a bad week with her allergy to insect bites. Over the last couple decades, one bite or bee sting at a time, she's developed a progressively worse sensitivity. She's never been anaphylactic-- yet-- but now she's being threatened with daily doses of Allegra (fexofenadine).

Five days ago she did some light yardwork & exterior painting and thought she was getting sick--tickly feeling in the back of her throat and an achy head. The next morning she was hard down: aches, fever, chills, dizziness, sore throat, hoarseness. The third morning she woke herself up scratching at a group of 23 (!) small bites inside her left bicep. She realized that she wasn't "sick" but was having an allergic reaction. She treated this with 3*20mg of prednisone and one Allegra per day for 3 days. It usually works pretty quickly, and within two hours her symptoms improved. Even if it's a placebo effect it's a good one.

On day four she relapsed to a sore throat & chest congestion so she doubled the Allegra dose. She recovered and did fine on the fifth day too, so we spent it watching the bites fade away. (Whaddya do all day indeed.) They were probably from an ant or a flea.

This morning (the sixth day) she was even worse-- more chest congestion, sore throat, hoarse, coughing, and feeling weak in her neck/arms/hands. (Oddly enough the bite site was the best-looking part of her-- fully recovered.) I'm not prone to panic but she looked scary enough to go straight to the clinic. More prednisone & Allegra. She's all better again-- so far.

Assuming she doesn't upgrade herself to a weekend ambulance trip, she's going back to the clinic on Monday morning and she'll probably get a consult with an allergy specialist. That typically takes 30 days.

This week was unusual because she didn't realize she'd been bitten, and so whatever was injected into her bites had a couple days to work on her. (Her bicep looked like she'd been bruised by shotgun pellets in a two-inch group.) She's had hot, itchy bite sites before but she's never been this sick. This time the prednisone & Allegra doses didn't seem to be lasting long enough, either.

For some reason she's a bee magnet-- a dozen stings over the last decade. In the past after a bee sting she'd get a gluteal Benedryl shot and follow up with her prednisone and Allegra for three days. All better. Or she'd get 3-5 ant bites and would self-medicate, again, a three-day course of prednisone and Allegra. Again all better. 23 bites is a personal record. In the past she's asked about an epinephrine injector (the "Epi-Pen") but the doctor said it wasn't necessary.

Another complication is that she runs on low blood pressure. Her BP is "normally" about 100/60, but it droops when she gets a bite reaction. Today at the clinic she turned in a 90/55, which caused some fuss before they checked her record. But we don't know if her low blood pressure contributes to the bite reaction.

The doctor couldn't identify her bug bites (we couldn't either) so we'll have to check out Al's photos again. I should point out that not only have I been bite-free this week, but in her company I'm rarely ever bitten. (I love this woman!) I'm supposed to be the one who's allergic to dust mites but I've been fine. I don't think we're dealing with bedbugs because we have anti-dust-mite mattress/pillow covers and fresh bed linens. If she'd been stung by a scorpion, centipede, or bee there would've been immediate "recognition". She was working in an area that typically has a lot of ant traffic (small, black, sugar-seeking) but no biting red ants. Oahu doesn't have fire ants or chiggers, unless REWahoo has some personal news that he wishes to share with the rest of the board.

Is anyone else dealing with a venom sensitivity like this, and how? Is anyone on a daily Allegra, and is it causing any problems? Does Allegra (or antihistamines in general) have any side effects on BP? Any other treatment ideas?
__________________

__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 06-22-2008, 09:19 AM   #2
Administrator
W2R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 38,934
Maybe a little, but nowhere near as severely as your wife!

In 1970 my thigh swelled to over double its normal circumference due to a bee sting (plus I felt faint). That really scared me so I have been extremely cautious since, and haven't been stung by a bee since. I freeze and make it loudly known to everyone nearby that "I am allergic to bees, get me out of here!!!" if I see a bee.

In 1980 I was stung by a yellow jacket, though. It scared me to death, because I thought the sensitivity might carry over but it didn't. Normal response. Ow.

In 1984 I moved to Texas and was immediately stung by hundreds of fire ants while at an outing at a lake. Seriously, I counted over 300 bites. Each fire ant bite swelled up like a boil. After that I avoided fire ants, but in Texas that was nearly impossible to do with 100% efficiency. When I was stung, even by a few, I got boil-like reactions that other people didn't seem to get. I also got some pretty shocking reactions to spider bites in Texas. After moving to Louisiana, I have not had any fire ant or spider bites.

I guess my strategy has been to actively avoid bites - - the longer I avoid them, the more my sensitivity seems to decline. No doctors, no Allegra, and so on. Moving to different parts of the country more often than I might like, has helped since the bugs are different in different states.
__________________

__________________
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immensities.

- - H. Melville, 1851
W2R is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2008, 09:28 AM   #3
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: No. California
Posts: 1,601
My son has a bee allergy which we found when he was about 7. He was stung and his foot swelled excessively. I was told to treat him with liquid Benedryl as soon as possible and watch for excessive swelling or breathing problems. He never had those symptoms and had to go to the ER, fortunately.

As he got older and camped with the Boy scouts, he carried an Epi-pen when they went backpacking where he couldn't get medical care within a reasonable time frame.
I still have the Epi-pen....I bet it expired years ago...
__________________
KB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2008, 01:04 PM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
lazygood4nothinbum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,895
only had bug problems as a kid. even mosquito bites. i'd get a bad reaction if the bite was on my face, but not anywhere else. and the closer to my eyes, the more the bite swelled. that stopped as i got older.

but i just want to comment on allergists really. i've used them twice to great success. the first time i had shots as a kid because allergies used to put me in bed for weeks at a time. after shots, no problems for about 30 plus years. then in my 40s i got hit by allergies again. five more years of shots and now my allergic reactions, while not completely gone, have been reduced by 90 plus percent.
__________________
"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
lazygood4nothinbum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2008, 02:23 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Moemg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sarasota,fl.
Posts: 10,036
I've seen several anaphylactic reactions and the situation goes out of control quickly . She really should see an Allergist . You don't want to mess around with any allergy that is getting worse especially that tickly feeling in her throat .
__________________
Moemg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2008, 02:38 PM   #6
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
Man, I am with Moemg. She might need to start carrying an Epi-pen. I have to carry one. I have to do the prednisone thing a couple times a year.

It is also possible that the 23 "bites" on her bicep are not bites. Sometimes its hard to tell allergic rashes from bites.
__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2008, 08:34 PM   #7
Moderator
Sarah in SC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 13,456
I've only had one bad reaction, to a hornet. The site was huge, like Want2 described. I had to get on steroids and antihistamines like everyone else. I have an expired epi-pen, but that's about it.
I'm with the other folks, Nords, she needs to be evaluated by an allergist as it sure seems to be escalating. This would be an excellent way to get out of doing yard work at your house!
__________________
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

Sarah in SC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2008, 12:04 AM   #8
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
This would be an excellent way to get out of doing yard work at your house!
Oh, thanks a lot!

Speaking as our house's laborer for management backup yard guy, and as my spouse logs on to check the threads, mere words can't express my reaction to your sentiment...
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2008, 10:44 AM   #9
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 67
I get huge welts from misquitoes and black fly bites that last from 7 to 10 days. Taking antihistamines has never relieved the symptons of these bites. I've found if I immediately treat a bite with a product called "After Bite" or a steriod cream prescribed by my doctor, I rarely get a severe reaction.

The best defense is to avoid being bitten. I wear clothes treated with permethrin and eat raw garlic when I am going to be outside for extended periods and these bugs are around. If you mix the raw garlic with hummus, it's easy to eat and reduces the number of bites to almost zero. Interestingly, no one has ever complained about any garlic ordor.
__________________
Sue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2008, 11:36 AM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Moemg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sarasota,fl.
Posts: 10,036
The real thing to worry about is her throat swelling and not being able to breathe . Most of the severe allergic reactions I've seen always started with my throat feels tingly or I feel weird and that's when you'd better have an epipen . An oral medication will not be quick enough in a severe reaction .
__________________
Moemg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2008, 04:04 PM   #11
Full time employment: Posting here.
tangomonster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 756
Nords, have we convinced your wife to at least carry an Epi pen?
__________________
“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”.------Krishnamurti
tangomonster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2008, 08:39 PM   #12
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
A week now since the original bites and her second doctor's visit this morning. He agrees that she reacted badly to whatever bit her and that her breathing passages are probably still inflamed.

No Benadryl shot but more prednisone & Allegra. She was told that if she takes the prednisone for longer than three days then she has to tail it off instead of stopping cold turkey. Apparently that's not so much a withdrawal symptom as it is an adjustment that her body might not tolerate well without gradually flushing out the steroid.

She's going to consult with an allergist, and with this trend it'll probably get her an Epi-Pen. She's asked for one before but I think the breathing issues will probably tip the scale this time. She has plenty of prednisone & Allegra refills, too, so she'll be able to build up a stash.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2008, 04:37 PM   #13
Moderator
MichaelB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Rocky Inlets
Posts: 24,487
Nords, after resolving the treatment aspects your wife should look into insect repellents. For bees I'm nost sure what's out there besides deet.

Our adult daughter developed severe reactions to fleas, mosquitos, spiders, and ants, and now reacts with severe swelling wherever bit (altho no breathng passage issues yet ). and still getting worse every bite. Now her closest constant companions and best friends are cutter deet and cortisone cream. In this case an ounce of prevention is worth a whole lot more than all the cures out there.
__________________
MichaelB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2008, 06:42 PM   #14
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Nords, after resolving the treatment aspects your wife should look into insect repellents.
She figured that out in the early years of our marriage and she never goes outside without repellent & sunscreen. Judging from this bite they're either not totally effective, or they're the only thing that's kept her alive so far.

Two weeks since the first batch of bites, and she's mostly recovered. One more day of prednisone and she's done with that. She's waiting on the allergist consult. She's still coughing but she sounds better-- upgraded from "lung heave" to merely "yikes".

Her cough will probably go away on its own but I think she's designing a medication double-blind trial involving Delsym & Bailey's. Or maybe "double" refers to the size of the dose...
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2008, 10:55 PM   #15
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 197
Does she usually get fever and chills with allergic reactions? One of our friends seems to be allergic to just about everything, and we've been hearing about her symptoms (from hives and rashes to anaphylactic shock) in excruciating detail for years, but I've never heard her mention fever.

The reason I'm wondering is that I gather that viral infections can sometimes really exacerbate allergic reactions. I sometimes get hives after exposure to shellfish but they only last a few hours; however, one time it happened when I was just getting over a really bad cold or something, and they hives and rash went on for a couple of weeks. A couple of friends of ours who were quite used to being around our dog ended up in the emergency room with allergic reactions after being around her when they had or were just recovering from a viral infection.

So I'm wondering if your wife was battling some sort of virus at the time she was exposed to the insect bites and that caused the reaction to be worse than usual. If that's the case, she might not get a reaction like this every time she has a run-in with an insect in the future. Not that I'm suggesting that she refuses the Epi-Pen if it's offered, though.
__________________
Cantuar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2008, 11:40 PM   #16
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantuar View Post
Does she usually get fever and chills with allergic reactions?
Nope, just progressively worse symptoms of bite reactions. Over 20+ years and a dozen or so memorable bites, each episode is worse than the last. She's been told that eventually she's going to hit anaphylactic-shock territory. She already tries to stay away from bees (as much as possible in a tropical climate).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantuar View Post
So I'm wondering if your wife was battling some sort of virus at the time she was exposed to the insect bites and that caused the reaction to be worse than usual. If that's the case, she might not get a reaction like this every time she has a run-in with an insect in the future.
Don't know about the virus; she didn't have any virus symptoms before the bite. We get most of our viruses from our kid's high school so it's possible. But virus or not, the reaction to each bite has been steadily worse.

I've been stung by bees & wasps and bitten by centipedes, but none of my reactions even make it to her Richter scale. There doesn't seem to be any preventive therapy like desensitization infusions, either. It looks like the medical community is counting on prompt treatment, fast ambulances, and (eventually) a declining immune response.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2008, 11:51 PM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,019
Nords, DW should see an allergist and get an EpiPen. Her symptoms sound like mild anaphylaxis. Severe anaphylaxis can completely occlude one's airway and may be fatal without prompt treatment. (sorry to be so blunt).

She should also be thankful that she was not in New Brunswick this morning:

globeandmail.com: New Brunswick town abuzz as millions of bees set loose
__________________
Meadbh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2008, 12:51 AM   #18
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 322
You can buy medrol or prednisone in a taper package (prescription)
My guess would be that the dose she took was too low.
I would also switch to either zyrtec or chlotrimeton when the symptoms are that bad. benadryl would actually work best but its the most sedating. They now have the medications that disolve under the tongue which may be worth carrying for emergencies.

Rob
__________________
spideyrdpd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2008, 02:11 AM   #19
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,620
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
Nords, DW should see an allergist and get an EpiPen. Her symptoms sound like mild anaphylaxis. Severe anaphylaxis can completely occlude one's airway and may be fatal without prompt treatment. (sorry to be so blunt).
I re-read my allergist comment and I realize now that it's ambiguous-- she's waiting on the allergist consult because the clinic has forwarded the TRICARE request and she's waiting for them to set up an appointment. She should be there in the next couple weeks.

The last allergist consult (a year ago? two?) didn't get her an Epi-Pen because her symptoms weren't severe enough. This throat/cough issue is brand-new and will probably merit the appropriate attention.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2008, 10:58 AM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,019
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
she's waiting on the allergist consult because the clinic has forwarded the TRICARE request and she's waiting for them to set up an appointment. She should be there in the next couple weeks.
I thought we Canadians were the only people who had wait times......!
__________________

__________________
Meadbh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Unidentified Bug Bites tangomonster Health and Early Retirement 29 08-31-2008 08:27 PM
Tax treatment of stock buyout Gumby FIRE and Money 2 11-26-2006 02:51 PM
Non-conventional treatment for hypertension, Dante Other topics 21 04-23-2006 09:08 PM
Hey, where's Hyper? Zipper Other topics 10 04-29-2005 12:32 PM
Another one bites the dust MRGALT2U Life after FIRE 12 03-16-2005 03:45 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:22 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.