A local reaction to the sting from a bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket is normal. These reactions consist of swelling, pain, redness and warmth. This usually lasts for several hours to one to two days, and can be treated with ice, anti-inflammatory medications and analgesics (pain medication).
An allergic reaction to an insect sting occurs in 5% or less of those stung, and symptoms may include one or more of the following: hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site; tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing; hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue; dizziness and/or loss of consciousness due to drop in blood pressure.
Those that have experienced a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 70% chance of having another similar reaction with a future sting. Those with insect sting allergy should carry injectable epinephrine and antihistamine which can be used in the event of an insect sting. Venom Immunotherapy (allergy shots for insect allergy) is recommended for these individuals. In fact, venom immunotherapy reduces the likelihood for reaction in susceptible individuals to that of the general population.