Monday, August 4, 2014

Health Care and Bug Bites

Summer time is an idyllic time of year. The temperatures are warm, if not hot; and you can be involved in so many activities outdoors that it may be you just don’t have time to do everything you want to do. You can go on vacation with the family because school is out for a few months, and you can travel almost anywhere without worrying too much about bad weather.

You can go to the beach, go swimming at the lake, lay out in your backyard to work on your tan. You can work outside in the yard, or take a hike in the mountains or the woods. There are just so many fun things to do during the warmer months—except deal with bug bites.

Because you are more exposed during the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons, and you usually are wearing less clothing during this time of the year, you’re more than likely going to get bitten by those pesky little creatures typically lumped into the same category called “BUGS.” They consist of mosquitoes, ants, bees, wasps, spiders, chiggers, and a host of other creepy, crawly, flying, biting kinds of insects. Most of time, the bites are not deadly--just inconvenient and a nuisance.

The bites usually itch and cause some swelling, depending on the type of bite. However, if you are allergic to certain types of insects, the problem could be worse. For example, people who have a low tolerance for certain types of flying insects, a sting from a bee or wasp could be life threatening if the reaction is severe. Bites from certain types of spiders can be very bad if they are in a class of poisonous arachnids.

There are many different types of insects that bite or sting, according to EveryDayHealth.com. Some bites and stings, like those from fire ants, wasps, hornets, and bees, are painful. Some can also spread illnesses, such as Lyme disease (black-legged tick), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (dog or wood tick), and West Nile virus (mosquito).  

The bites of other bugs, such as mosquitoes, mites, and fleas, are itchy and uncomfortable, but usually harmless. Learning to identify a bug bite by how it looks and feels will help you know whether to seek medical attention immediately or treat the skin bump at home. Much more detailed information can be found at this website: http://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-and-beauty-photos/how-to-identify-common-bug-bites.aspx .

According to HealthLine.com, if you are bitten or stung, you may see or feel the insect on your skin during the attack. Some victims do not notice the insect and are not aware of a bite or sting until one or more of the following symptoms emerge:

·         swelling, which may be concentrated in the affected area or may spread throughout the body
·         redness or rash
·         pain in the affected area or muscular pain
·         itching
·         heat on and around the site of the bite or sting
·         numbness or tingling in the affected area

Symptoms of a severe reaction requiring immediate medical treatment include:

·         fever
·         difficulty breathing
·         nausea or vomiting
·         muscle spasms
·         rapid heartbeat
·         swelling of the lips and throat
·         confusion
·         loss of consciousness

If you feel ill or experience flu-like symptoms in the days following an insect bite, see your physician for tests to rule out infections or diseases you may have contracted from the insect. More details can be found at this site: http://www.healthline.com/health/bug-bites.

According to KidsHealth.org, in the case of a systemic reaction, the person may break out in hives. Other symptoms can include wheezing; shortness of breath; rapid heartbeat; faintness; and swelling of the face, lips, throat, or tongue. If a person has these symptoms, call 911 immediately. If an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) is available, it should be used right away. It hardly ever happens, but severe allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings can be fatal if the person doesn't get medical help. Much more detailed info can be found at this site: http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/first_aid/bug_bites.html .

Although the warm months are when bugs seem to be at their feistiest, you can also get them from bed bugs and other inside varmints during any time of the year. According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), in the United States, some mosquitoes spread West Nile Virus. Travelers outside the United States may be at risk for malaria and other infections. To prevent insect bites and their complications:

·         Don't bother insects.
·         Use insect repellant.
·         Wear protective clothing.
·         Be careful when you eat outside because food attracts insects.
·         If you know you have severe allergic reactions to insect bites, carry an emergency epinephrine kit.

Pesky bugs like fleas can bite any time, winter or summer. Fleas are small insects that feed on the blood of humans, dogs, cats, and other warm-blooded animals. Pet owners may not be bothered by fleas until after the pet is gone for a long period of time. Fleas look for other sources of food and begin to bite humans. Bites often occur around the waist, ankles, armpits, and in the bend of the elbows and knees. If you get a flea infestation, you need to treat the affected areas.

The goal of treatment is to get rid of the fleas. This can be done by treating your home, pets, and outside areas with chemicals (pesticides). Small children should not be in the home when pesticides are being used. Birds and fish must be protected when chemicals are sprayed. Home foggers and flea collars do not always work to get rid of fleas. If home treatments do not work, you may need to get professional pest control help.

You can use an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone to relieve itching. Antihistamines you take by mouth may also help with itching. Here is a site for more detailed material on this subject: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/insectbitesandstings.html .

Many bug bites can be treated with over the counter medications. Talk with your local pharmacist or your doctor for simple solutions. If your reaction is more severe, you may wish to notify your allergist for suggestions and medications. Critical, life threatening reactions should be handled immediately by calling emergency responders. If you or a loved one has this type of possible outcome, be vigilant in your preventive measures to avoid contact with bugs that bite.

Until next time.

 

1 comment:

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