Most of the time, sting-related anaphylaxis and death occur after someone is accidentally stung. About 90–100 people in the US die each year from insect stings, including bees.
This seems to be the first reported case of a death following bee sting acupuncture, according to the report. In either case, rapid treatment with epinephrine is essential and can often stop dangerous reactions before they become life-threatening.
“Death is not a common outcome of a bee sting, but bee sting practices are becoming more and more common,” said Madrigal-Burgaleta, who conducted the research on the case while at Ramón y Cajal University Hospital in Madrid, in an email. “If you take enough chances without the adequate resources and installations, a tragedy will eventually happen.”
You can become sensitized to an allergen at any time, meaning your body starts to treat a normally harmless protein as a dangerous invader. And repeated exposure can increase the risk of sensitization. So that means that even if you’ve never had a reaction in the past — like the woman in this case — you can still have one in the future.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include eye, face, and throat swelling; nausea and vomiting; diarrhea; itchy and reddened skin; confusion and slurred speech; difficulty breathing and swallowing; abdominal pain; and unconsciousness.
“The fear with giving bee venom stings is that a patient can become sensitized from the stings and then after repeated treatments get a severe, anaphylactic reaction,” Dr. Dean Mitchell told BuzzFeed News in an email. Mitchell is a clinical assistant professor at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York.
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