Insektenstich und Allergie - Informationen für Sportler

As an athlete, you usually move quickly and dynamically and concentrate fully on these movements. Since training is often strenuous, a film of sweat quickly forms on the skin. These are all conditions that can quickly lead to an insect or wasp sting. How to avoid them and what you should do in an emergency explains Prof. Dr. medical Thilo Jacob.

Sweat attracts wasps

Especially in summer, training outside quickly leads to perspiration. Wasps are almost attracted to it, but they provoke the quick movements of the athletes and they become aggressive. If the insect goes unnoticed due to the athlete's increased concentration, it can easily sting. This is already quite unpleasant even if you do not have an allergic reaction. However, in Germany alone, around 3 million people are allergic, of which around 20 per year die from what is known as anaphylactic shock. According to Jakob, the number of unreported cases is higher because insect bite anaphylaxis is often not considered when the cause of death is unknown.

Avoiding insect bites

If possible, athletes should regularly wipe their sweat during training so as not to attract the insects too much. A deodorant without fragrances also avoids attracting wasps unnecessarily. Also make sure to wear light and discreet sportswear, as dark and bright colors (e.g. yellow) are attractive.

Stung - what to do?

Immediately try to remove the stinger with either your fingernail or a bank card. However, do not press on the poison sac, which is often still on the sting, as this will release even more poison into the skin. Immediate cooling relieves the itching, and lemon juice or a sliced ​​onion can provide pain relief. However, do not leave them on the skin for too long, otherwise chemical burns may occur. Some pain and some swelling is normal with bites, but certain ointments and gels are available to reduce this. However, you should monitor your body to spot an allergic reaction if it occurs.

Allergic reaction - symptoms

In the case of an insect bite allergy, there can be different expressions. Examples of this are a rash on different parts of the body (regardless of the injection site), swelling of the face and neck and itching on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet or hairy parts of the body.

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Anaphylactic shock - symptoms

If you have an allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock can occur. Among other things, this can be recognized by:

  • sudden runny or stuffy nose
  • itchy eyes
  • Difficulty swallowing and speaking
  • shortness of breath
  • tachycardia
  • dizziness
  • circulatory weakness
  • circulatory collapse
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • intestinal problems
  • Itching and redness all over the body

If you experience any of these symptoms, take this seriously and contact a doctor or emergency doctor immediately. An allergy can be easily detected by a doctor's test even before a sting. If you have a diagnosed allergy, you should always have your emergency medication with you, as an epinephrine auto-injector, antihistamine and cortisone can save your life in an emergency.

Precautionary measures against allergic shock

If you want to protect yourself, hyposensitization treatment (insecticide vaccination) can help you. As a result, initial protection against insect venom is quickly built up, and after about three to five years of treatment, 90% of patients have not found a general reaction to bee or wasp stings.

Sport after the sting

If you were stung by a wasp or something similar during your training, but didn't have an allergic reaction, you can simply continue your training.

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