DEAR DR. ROACH: I get a severe reaction to bee stings. The last time, my arm became swollen to the size of my leg. Is the next bee sting likely to be fatal? Do I need an EpiPen? — N.N.
ANSWER: Bee stings (or any of the family Hymenoptera, including wasps, yellow jackets and hornets) cause local reactions in the majority of people. About 10 percent of people have dramatic local reactions. Fortunately, the risk of anaphylaxis — the severe systemic reaction that is responsible for 100 deaths per year in the U.S. — is very low in people with local reactions. However, it is still worthwhile to discuss with your doctor or an allergist, because the symptoms of anaphylaxis are sometimes missed. Anyone with a history of systemic reaction should carry ( and know how to use!) an epinephrine injection.
Removing the stinger as soon as possible, preferably within seconds, is a good idea to prevent the full injection of venom.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband had shingles about five years ago; when we went in for our flu shot, we were both encouraged to also get the shingles vaccine. Doesn’t he have immunity from actually having had it? We are both 60 years old. — J.R.
ANSWER: Even if you have a history of shingles, you still should get the shingles vaccine, since it is still possible to get shingles again after having it once.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med. cornell.edu. To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
©2014 North America Synd.