Flowers are indeed beautiful. Just think of all the flowers which have been the subject of many a poet’s verses! And what about the dozen roses, a reasonably sure way of getting many a husband out of the doghouse-at least temporarily. Yet not only do some of these objects of beauty contain enough dander to fund a small drug company’s allergy drug research, they also attract bees and other stinging insects.

For most of us a bee sting is an unpleasant thing which results in a small but painful red area. Sometimes the area will spread and although it looks nasty, it usually goes away with tincture of time, perhaps some Benadryl and a little ice.

For a minority a bee sting can provoke a life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. This occurs when the toxin contained in the stinger causes a massive immune system attack. Specialized cells are mobilized which can either attack directly the so called invader or produce a host of substances with long chemical sounding names to fight off the perceived threat-ie the toxin. While over million of years of evolution, we humans have gained a lean, mean fighting machine (our immune system).  Sometimes it would be better if the army were held off.

In anaphylaxis what results are serious at times fatal results: Inflammation occurs in the mouth, trachea and lungs which can cause suffocation. Blood vessels dilate causing the blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels. The lack of oxygen in the blood in turn releases yet more dangerous substances and death might occur.

Fortunately, if treated early enough this reaction can be overcome. Adrenalin is given in order to help the blood pressure and heart work better. Steroids are administered to calm the immune system. Benadryl and other similar medications might be used in order to further back the immune system off. If there is wheezing, then Albuterol or other nebulized drugs are employed to help the breathing.

Yet, even better would be to treat the attack right at the onset. People who have had serious reactions from bee stings  are prescribed Epipen.  This is essentially adrenalin, which is injected without a needle using a vacuum system under the skin. It works almost immediately and buys enough time to rush to the ER where more treatment happens.