Unlike most food allergies, bee stings are tough for people who are allergic to them to avoid.
Individuals with bee sting allergies are more likely to have allergic reactions than are those with food allergies, statistics say. Given that, any relief is welcome.
In a Johns Hopkins study, people known to have previously had allergic reactions to bee stings usually had worse symptoms upon a second sting than did those who had not. A full 60 percent of those who were stung a second time had worse reactions.
Bee desensitization therapy has been around for a very long time, having been practiced, archaeologists believe, even in ancient times. Modern therapies have been tested and proven to work, with some having success rates so high that patients have their "second sting reaction" severity lowered to just 1 or 2 percent.
Therapy consists of tests to measure sensitivity levels followed by a weekly injection of bee serum under the skin, which includes a short observation period to be sure no reaction takes place. After several months (four to six in most cases), reactions will be near-zero for most patients. Then allergists may recommend monthly, bi-monthly, or semi-annual visits for more injections.
An allergist can recommend when the therapy is right for the patient and what regimen will work best.