Health Impact

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    The Health Impact of Bed Bugs

    Bed bug infestation is probably the most annoying thing that can happen to anyone. Although, science claims that bed bugs do not spread diseases, they may cause itchiness, redness, and extreme discomfort. The central question, therefore is can bed bug bites make you sick?  The answer to this question would depend upon how one defines sickness. Bed bugs can cause one to lose sleep, be uncomfortable, and face stigma. In some cases, serious health problems may also ensue, and in the most severe cases, death may follow. This article focuses on the health problems caused by bed bug bites.

    Detecting bed bugs

    It is first important to understand if one has bed bugs, and then one can attempt to answer questions like “can bed bugs make you sick?” and “can you die from bed bug bites?” the first sign that one has bed bugs is if one wakes up with itchy red spots on the body, or experiences difficulty in sleeping. It is easy to mistake them for mosquitoes, as they are barely visible. A sure shot way to check is to inspect the mattress for rust colored spots. The excreta of bed bugs, owing to the fact that their primary source of nutrition is blood, is of the mentioned color. Owing to the fact that bed bugs are nocturnal creatures, it is advisable to try and spot them at night. They are usually visible in red light torches.

    Health problems caused by bed bugs

    Can bed bugs cause breathing problems?

    One of the most severe problems caused by bed bugs is the effect they have on the respiratory system, especially for people with allergies. Bed bugs, as they grow shed their outer covering. In addition to this, the feces of bed bugs have high levels of histamine in them. This is because they mark areas where humans are found through this. The high histamine levels, along with the outer coverings can cause breathing problems. To make it worse, these particles stay in the air, long after the bed bugs have been removed. In fact, some studies claim that the high histamine levels are maintained for up to three months after the bed bugs have been purged from your house. So, the answer to the question can bed bugs cause breathing problems is affirmative, and therefore, it is a good idea to get one’s home checked for bed bugs, if respiratory problems occur.

    Itchy spots

    A common result of bed bug bites are itchy spots. They are usually clustered together. This clustering can be a way to differentiate them from mosquito bites, which are usually more scattered. In some cases, the bites may be severe enough to result in boils. Although, the bed bugs themselves do not transmit diseases, infection may follow if a person scratches the bite, with unclean hands to nails. Superficial, peeling off, of the skin may also occur due to insistent scratching. A doctor should immediately be consulted, if one comes down with fever, or if the bite becomes septic or swollen.

    Bug bite swollen hand

    As stated before, in extreme cases, a bug bite may result in an allergic reaction, leading to a swollen limb. The inflammation can be painful, and may be accompanied by fever. This usually happens in people with low immunity, and in people who are susceptible to infections. Usually, the infected area is red, and slightly warmer than the surrounding area of the body. A source or the place where the bug has bitten is usually easily identifiable, as it would be slightly redder and more swollen. In such a case, the doctor should be consulted immediately, as it may become worse. An anti itch cream should be applied, and an anti allergy medicine should be had. in some cases, an injection may be needed. Any tight clothing, or jewelry item, that might restrict blood flow to the infected area should be removed. The infected area should not be touched or scratched with unwashed hands, as this may further aggravate the infection.


    Another common problem of having bed bugs is insomnia or the inability to get sound sleep. This is obvious, as bed bugs, being nocturnal, are the most active, when humans are sleeping. Insomnia can cause serious health problems, like irritability, inability to concentrate, restlessness, and in some extreme cases depression. Even in the most mild case, inability to get sound sleep, will negatively impact one’s professional life and one’s relationship with family. The lack of sleep has an adverse impact on immunity, which in turn makes one more vulnerable to developing infections due to bed bug bites, thus leading to a vicious cycle.

    Can you die from bed bugs bites?

    Usually, bed bugs bites are not serious enough to cause death. However, there are cases when the bites have lead to serious allergic reactions, or infections. If not treated on time, and if allowed to spread sufficiently, death may result. This is especially true in the case of those suffering from breathing problems, particularly asthma. Keeping in mind that bed bugs, aggravate asthma, and an asthma attack can lead to death, bed bugs are potentially fatal. This is complicated by the fact that the respiratory system may continue to be affected by it, for a long time, after they have been removed. In very serious cases, over a long time, iron deficiency in the blood may also occur. Insomnia, or lack of sleep, and the resultant inability to concentrate, itself may lead to accidents.

    Therefore, to conclude, contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are a common household problem. This however, does not take away from the fact that they are incredibly hard to spot as they are confused with mosquitoes, and may lead to many health problems, ranging from itchy spots, respiratory problems, swelling, insomnia and in few cases even death. It is thus important to be aware and attentive of these small but dangerous pests, and to get rid of them as soon as possible.


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