Over the summer of 2008, there were a few instances of athletes having issues with bees while cycling. Both stories were filled with pain for the riders.
Hitting the Deck
A woman on a solo ride had a wasp or bee fly into her helmet and get stuck. The bee began to sting, so the rider tried to dislodge the bee with one hand. As she did, she inadvertently grabbed the front brake. The bike fishtailed and she went down hard.
The crash fractured the rider's pelvis in four places. Of last notice, the rider will remain in the hospital for around 14 days and will not be able to bear weight on her right leg for some time, requiring the use of a walker to get around.
A Severe Allergic Reaction
Another rider had a bee fly into a slightly unzipped jersey. At first, there was initial pain due to the sting, and then some numbness began to creep into the area. The rider decided to tough it out and press on.
About five or 10 minutes later, the rider noticed overall body itching--like an army of ants were crawling all over her torso trying to conquer her. She said the worst itching was on the bottom of her feet. She tried to use water to cool herself off.
Then she noticed that her heart rate was going wild. She got back on the bike and started soft-pedaling, and her heart rate immediately jumped to 160. She knew immediately something was really wrong. She stopped and started looking for help. Within minutes of stopping, her face began to swell up.
Thankfully, a kind person stopped to offer help. The driver gave her a ride to a nearby doctor's office. By the time there, though it was just blocks away, the cyclist was nauseated, incoherent and ready to faint.
The doctor's office immediately called 9-1-1 because she was having a severe allergic reaction to the bee sting. This kind of reaction is life-threatening because airways may become so swollen that the person can die of suffocation.
The rider had to heal with the help of adrenaline, Benedryl and steroids. From now on, she will also have to carry an "EpiPen" (Epinephrine/Adrenalin) on all rides so she can give herself a shot to buy time if she must again seek medical help.
She was completely unaware that she was so allergic to bee stings because she had never been stung before. She also commented that she nearly did herself in because she tried to "tough it out."
What if You Encounter Bees?
Here are a few things to keep in mind while riding:
- If something flies into your helmet, it's best to stop immediately and remove the creature. You may think the creature is a harmless bug until it starts to sting or bite. Once this happens, most people go into panic mode.
- If you notice severe reactions to a sting, seek medical attention immediately.
- Remove any remaining stinger from your skin.
- Applying ice can provide some relief to the sting site.
- Antihistamines (Benadryl or the like) can help with the itching.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used for pain relief.
- Webmd [http://www.webmd.com/] recommends that if you haven't had a tetanus booster within the last 10 years, get a booster within a few days of the incident.
- If you know you are allergic to stings, carry a sting kit with you that includes an EpiPen and antihistamines.
More first aid information on bee stings can be found here. Bee-ware of allergic reactions and don't try to tough it out.